Architects: Grieve Gillett
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Client: Flinders University
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Grant Hancock
From the architect. The School of Medicine building is located at the intersection of University Drive and Ring Road. Sited on a steep, highly exposed hillside the building forms an entry statement for the Flinders University campus, whilst acting as a lantern at night. The design accommodates and reinforces the existing circulation of the University campus; linking the University to Flinders Medical Centre.
The architectural language of the building references the recently completed Health Science building, to which there is a physical bridge link. The restrained palette responds to its neighbor and meets Local Council requirements for a subdued palette on this prominent hills-face site.
The building’s form responds directly to the site’s natural topography; a large format auditorium is provided over two levels, following the natural gradient. The prevalence of shallow rock predicated the arrangement of the facilities over three suspended, staggered floor slabs. Housing tutorial spaces, meeting rooms and a state-of-the-art auditorium, the design also provides the flexibility to host conferences by utilizing operable walls, tearoom and an external deck.
A veil of louvres shade the glazing whilst maintaining 270° views across Adelaide. Internal and external circulation spaces activate the northern façade; whilst louvres filter the light source from within. Passive surveillance of these circulation routes is provided from within the building and from the adjacent roadway, providing a safe thoroughfare.
Integral to the design were construction techniques simplifying the erection of the structure on a site, challenging in terms of gradient, prevalent rock and proximity to the busy University arterial roads. Consideration of the footings from design through to construction reduced excavation, managing the risk posed by the rocky terrain. Delivery and emergency access was achieved through the re-design of an existing master plan that failed to realize compliant access.
The amenity of adjacent buildings is maintained and the roof structure reduced by housing the plant beneath the second level slab, where the a/c equipment and two rainwater tanks for toilet flushing are located. Services are housed remote from the auditorium to avoid acoustic interference. Acoustic ceiling and floor treatments are integrated within the architecture.
Careful management of the budget returned $300,000.00 of the contingency, without compromising the quality of the building. The architectural and structural design allowed for remote fabrication with rapid delivery and erection on site. The robust and mostly self-finished building materials result in minimal maintenance requirements and a long service life.
Shading to the glass reduces the mechanical plant size and extends equipment life. External blinds provide flexibility and reduce energy consumption. Operable windows provide fresh air. Glazing maximizes access to natural light, including to corridor spaces, reducing reliance on artificial lighting. Low energy, long life LED light fittings are used in the auditorium.
The School of Medicine has exceeded the client’s brief, within budget and program. The design maximizes the potential of this challenging site; providing an entry statement to the campus that is functional, flexible and environmentally responsible, a building that maximizes views and compliments the surrounding natural and built environment.