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M2 / John Wardle Architects + Swanbury Penglase

  • 01:00 - 28 March, 2013
M2 / John Wardle Architects + Swanbury Penglase
M2 / John Wardle Architects + Swanbury Penglase, © Sam Noonan
© Sam Noonan

© Sam Noonan © Sam Noonan © Sam Noonan © Sam Noonan + 24

  • Practice Team

    John Wardle, Stefan Mee, Meaghan Dwyer, Adam Kolsrud, Amanda Moore, Kah-Fai Lee, Naomi Webster, Eugenia Tan, Tom Drazic, Stephanie Tan, Genevieve Griffiths, Erin Taylor, Andrew Wong, Miranda Kan, Ian Hince, Jasmin Williamson (John Wardle Architects) - Eric Swanbury, Wayne Grivell, Paul Rawinski, Elizabeth Swanbury-Senior Associate, Matthew Raven, Janelle Arbon, Tim Conybeare, Brett Grimm ( Swanbury Penglase )
  • Construction Team

    Hansen Yuncken, Managing Contractor
  • Structural & Civil

    Wallbridge & Gilbert Consulting Engineers
  • Services

    Bestec & Umow Lai
  • ESD

    Umow Lai
  • Acoustic

  • Facade

  • Landscape

    Swanbury Penglase Architects
  • Building Surveyor

    Katnich Dodd
  • AV Consultant

  • Laboratory and Education Consultant

    Wilson Architects
  • More Specs Less Specs
© Sam Noonan
© Sam Noonan

Text description provided by the architects. The Mineral and Materials Building (M2) and Plasso create a new hub and entry portal to the already substantial scientific research precinct at the University of South Australia’s Mawson Lakes Campus.  Two of the university’s preeminent research groups, the Mawson Institute and Ian Wark Institute, came together to formulate a brief for the new building.

© Sam Noonan
© Sam Noonan

Using these fields of research as a conceptual basis, two themes emerged at an early stage.  The first was an idea of ‘stratification’ that refers to the surrounding context of the dry creek, lake and wetlands around Mawson Lakes. The formation of strata, or layers, is evident both in the planning and cladding systems. The second theme, ‘cast and mould’ was utilised in the design process and explored throughout plan design and modelling as well as in the use of building components.  The name of the adjacent external space, “The Plasso”, is derived from the Greek and means “to fabricate or mould a material or substance”.

© Sam Noonan
© Sam Noonan

The architecture of the building and the sunken Plasso form is both new within its context and referential by taking cues from sculpted concrete building elements elsewhere on campus. It partners in scale with the adjacent Building X to the south and is physically linked by a new bridge connection to the nearby IW Building.

© Sam Noonan
© Sam Noonan

The internal planning maximises linkages to the campus and the town centre. The ground floor has been considered as a street flanked by significant civic elements: laboratories bringing research into the foreground, lecture theatre as an object attracting students and a cafe that opens to the Plasso beyond.


Innovative approaches to teaching and learning have been explored in the new building. A theatre-in-the-round at ground level is a collaborative forum for discursive learning, whilst the M2 Studio above is a home room for the students undertaking the newly established degree in minerals and materials science.  This space overlooks the Plasso.

© Sam Noonan
© Sam Noonan

The team was firmly focussed on delivering meaningful environmental outcomes, with a forecast 5 star Green Star As-Built rating and an exercise is ongoing to achieve a maximum carbon emission target of 80 – 85kg of CO²/m². Careful consideration was given to the extreme energy needs of the complex laboratory building services, with regimes set for usage and automation.  The provision of the large timber screen to the north also assisted with mechanical load modelling to key public areas.

© Sam Noonan
© Sam Noonan

The project was designed and constructed within a very tight programme, dictated by a series of Federal Government funding milestones and the project team worked together in a very collaborative manner in this high pressure, fast tracked construction environment.

© Sam Noonan
© Sam Noonan

The project is a dynamic and exciting contribution to the built form of the university campus and the broader Mawson Lakes district, and provides a new and valuable model for future learning, teaching and work environments.


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Cite: "M2 / John Wardle Architects + Swanbury Penglase" 28 Mar 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884
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