The Braggs is the new transdisciplinary research Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS) at the University of Adelaide. The facility completes the newly developed science and research precinct on the North Terrace campus, housing both research, and undergraduate laboratories, and a 420 seat lecture theatre.
The central philosophy of the building is to enable researchers from different disciplines - physics, chemistry, biology - to come together to enable a transdisciplinary approach to research. The methodology, led by the Institute’s head, Tanya Munro, has required a building that supports and fosters both formal and informal collaboration. As such, the building investigates methods of three dimensional connection of space within the tight security and safety requirements of a leading laboratory environment, through its positioning on campus, its relationship to campus life, and its strategic inclusion of two vibrant internal vertical streets.
The building is critically and centrally positioned on the campus to draw undergraduate students around and through the facility in order to encourage and stimulate interest in the research disciplines beyond the post graduate level.
The entrance is captured in a dramatic 5 storey atrium, encouraging pedestrian flow through, with a café and informal gathering spaces at the base, and access from Maths Lawn and from the street to the north. The atrium is one of the two vertical streets that underpin the new building. All academics, students and post graduate researchers enter the facility through this collaborative space. Meeting rooms and social areas are located around and within the atrium and provide spaces for researchers, academics and students to continue conversations beyond laboratory and office spaces.
The second vertical street is a striking 7 storey high, 50 m long ‘verandah’ which stretches along the building’s southern length, and visually and physically connects the floors. It not only connects the building internally, but connects it back to the campus – through its glazed outreach to the Maths Lawn.
The building envelope is a combination of solid and glass – the solid are a warm red, providing a respectful reference to the red brick environment of the early buildings on campus. It responds to the various orientations, - the north is a combination of glazed and solid panels with large concrete overhangs, the west, solid and glazed panels, with the solid panels forming sunscreens to the harsh angle of the western sun, and the south is fully transparent, providing the picture window to Maths Lawn.
The facade integrates notions of glass and light – the two key mediums of Photonics – through the development of a facetted glass envelope that wraps the building. Each level is facetted at varying angles of acuity to represent the different wavelengths of light as they are refracted to reveal the colours of the light spectrum. The result is a crystalline form that shimmers through its reflection and refraction of light throughout the day. The building symbolically represents its photonics research core, and in turn develops an integrated environment for leading transdisciplinary scientific research.