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University of Technology Sydney (UTS) - In a class of its own

University of Technology Sydney (UTS) - In a class of its own

The City Campus of Sydney University of Technology (UTS) has been expanded through the addition of a new building. Forming an annex to the existing Science Building and built in association with BVN Architecture, Durbach Block Jaggers have created a new home on Thomas Street for the Faculty of Science and Graduate School of Health. A dramatic feature is the new building's undulating facade, made possible by using the StoVentec R Rainscreen Facade System from Sto, with a multitude of colour-framed windows, this accordion like design evokes the organic form of a tree grove.

The requirements placed on the new UTS building in Sydney were complex: in addition to a highly technical spatial programme, its prominent position in the centre of the university grounds on 'Alumni Green' the only free greenspace in the entire university, also needed to be considered. Durbach Block Jaggers and BVN Architecture came up with a solution that is as clever as it is optically impressive. On the southern side of the courtyard, the architects designed a bright vividly undulating and simultaneously inclined rendered facade structured with an abundance of slot-shaped windows. A distinctive feature sees the windows framed in projecting steel frames with reveals painted in various shades of green, yellow and blue. The result is a fluctuating, dynamic facade that conjures up the images of tree branches and the way they dance in the wind.

The building is tiered in terms of height so the open area inside the complex is not excessively shaded as a result of the low sun during winter: while the street side has five storeys, the courtyard side has only four. The total of 13,800 square metres of floor space is not only distributed over the five storeys, but also over three subterranean levels. Along with Australia's largest scientific lecture room (The SuperLab) with seating for 220 people, these encompass a variety of laboratories, some of which are equipped with special research facilities such as a vacuum chamber, cleanroom and combustion chamber.

The first underground level also incorporates a large auditorium and an area for the medical professions. Located on the entrance level are a cafe and the Graduate School of Health wing, with the upper floors accommodating office workstations and smaller laboratories. At the top of the building the architects housed the service installation rooms. All of the levels are interconnected by the partly sculptured stairway system; while the functional areas are linked on all floors by communal spaces for students and general gathering zones. In this way, the areas in the existing Science Building, to which the new building is annexed, have also been meaningfully connected.

Despite all the ingenuity of the design and high level of functionality, the ecological aspects have certainly not been neglected and therefore been awarded a five out of six star green rating: the roof area above the fourth floor has been designed as a green roof. The air supply for the ventilation system is pre-conditioned via a labyrinth system in the underground library area.

The StoVentec R, a rainscreen facade system used on 97 percent of the facade comprises of a light-weight sustainable flexible carrier board made of recycled glass which allows for three dimensional designs, fixed over a highly-engineered adjustable aluminium sub-construction. The system is successfully used both in the construction of new buildings and in refurbishment providing a quick and high-quality solution especially for moist or extreme substrates and combines the benefit of a seamless surface. Thanks to the ventilation of the system, the substrate and optional insulation remains permanently dry, protected and functional. The multi layer structure also adds to improved sound protection.


Architect: Durbach Block Jaggers and BVN Architecture.

Construction: Richard Crookes.

StoVentec Installation: Kingston Building Group.

Sto Contractor: Eurocon. 

Photos: Andrew Worssam, Anthony Browell, Darren Bradley.

NSW Architect Awards 2015:

-City of Sydney Lord Mayor's Architect Prize 2015 for the Faculty of Science and Graduate School of Health project.

-Gold Winner, Architecture Mixed Use Constructed Award for the Faculty of Science and Graduate School of Health project.

National Architecture Awards 2015:

-2015 Australian Institute of Architects National Award for Education Buildings.

Architect & Design Sustainability Award 2015:

-Winner of the Architect and Design Sustainability: Public Building and Urban Design Award for the Faculty of Science and Graduate School of Health project.

-Finalist: World Environmental Day Awards 2015  Hanson's Green Building Award for the Faculty of Science and Graduate School of Health project.

-Finalist: 2015 UNAA World Environment Day Awards for Faculty of Science and Graduate School of Health project.


StoVentec R