Text description provided by the architects. The Macquarie University Incubator aims to amplify and imbue deep thinking around innovation, bringing together entrepreneurial spirit, ingenuity, and collaboration. The Incubator was conceived as a pair of pavilions, each with flexible layouts that lend themselves to future adaptations and functions with the facilitation of collaboration being the underlying principle. The architecture is designed to be both a light touch and memorable, responding to the shallow falling site, the beautiful wooded context and Macquarie University’s aspiration to create a building that represents and encourages innovation. The Incubator is a demonstration that Macquarie University is facilitating societal advancement through partnerships, research, invention, and high-quality architectural design.
The building is outward looking, with deep and generous verandas and abstracted, full-height glazing along with the majority of the façade, encouraging social activity along the building’s edge, framing views and offering a mixture of public and private spaces. The landscape surrounding the building further reinforces this, where a relaxed and inviting quality of spaces is supplemented by deep bespoke timber benches, large gabion walls, and calm native plantings.
The architectural principles, that being the expression of structure, a harmonious palette of natural materials and a form that acknowledges the gridded character of the Wally Abrahams master plan also reflects the defining features of the architectural context of the campus. The architects worked closely with the client throughout the process to deliver the right mix of accommodation for their needs. An open and flexible layout, defined by two large pavilions with differing functions, define the formal planning maneuvers. The southern entry pavilion leads to a large open event space that can be adapted for various event modes and sizes. Discreetly housed to the right of the entry are fully glazed, acoustically separated, meeting rooms, amenities, lockers and building services space. A generous accessible ramp takes you down to the lower pavilion which is characterised by a large, open collaboration space and various meeting spaces.
To meet the swift 12-month program, a modular prefabricated construction methodology was employed. The architects worked closely with the consultants and contractor to a high degree of design resolution, through traditional means of meetings and hand-sketching but also crucially through the utilisation of 3D BIM models. Accuracy was fundamental to ensure the building components were fully coordinated before they were transported and installed.
The project was delivered within the targeted timeframe and on budget. A modular prefabricated approach requires comprehensive design and coordination earlier in the delivery process with the attendant opportunities to control risk, reduce cost and add value. A building like the Incubator sends a clear signal about the importance of innovation within the culture of Macquarie University. It is a place for the gestation of ideas with potentially profound economic benefits.