Swinburne University Advanced Technologies Centre

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Swinburne University Advanced Technologies Centre

The Swinburne University of Technology Advanced Technologies Centre (SUT ATC) is the most important recent development undertaken by the university and creates 19,000 square metres for state-of-the-art research and learning centres. The development is a single facility with four distinct elements, configured as twin separated ten level towers behind twin three level structures addressing Burwood Road. The entire site is also covered by a service intensive specialist research lower ground facility. The SUT ATC is the first project to be awarded the five star Green Star rating. The project has been created by H2o architects working with Swinburne University, after H2o architects were selected from a design competition for the project in July 2007 and the project was completed in January 2011. Conceptual framework SUT ATC is designed to be practical and flexible for future changes in education, while enriching and invigorating its occupants and the university. Precast concrete facades differentiate the building from the high rise glass boxes associated with commercial buildings and symbolise the building’s non-commercial use. Circular patternation and circular glazing on the facade, strengthen the buildings appearance and reference the contemporary preference for non-rectilinear geometries, currently researched by the engineering community that occupies the building. Public and cultural benefits The public ground level is invigorated by cruciform three level atrium arcades that reference Melbourne laneways, providing ease of navigation and moments of intimacy for the occupants. In contrast to the upper levels, the ground levels are highly glazed, including the world’s first fully glazed circular retractable seating auditorium, to allow the public domain to have visual connection with the important research and learning operations on the lower level of the building and allow vision into the previously concealed workings of the university. The building reverses its representation to the public domain over the cycle from day to night. Materials in the facility, particularly in the public circulation areas, are robust and self finished, with public domain hardiness – as a reference to village paths for this village in the sky. Relationship of built form to context Twin separated ten level towers hover behind dual three level podium structures addressing Burwood Road and reference the existing street scale. Glazed bridges provide variation to the internal journey and activate the southern and northern facades with occupant movement patterns. Responding to passive solar design results in shade creating circulation balconies to the north and minimised exposure to east or west solar loads. The sitting of the building creates an external space north of the building that is shaded from severe winds and captures the sun, creating a student heart and soul for the campus, now know as the Swinburne Steps. Integration of allied disciplines Fire engineers allowed the design of three storey cruciform light courts connected to an eleven storey circulation rise with escalators and an open stair, with no enclosure other than glazed smoke doors on fire mode activated hold opens – all assisting ease of movement through the building. The escalator design for movement through all levels of the building is modelled from studying shopping centres and train stations where the beginning and end of a lecture is similar to the arrival and departure of a train and involving the dislodgement of large traffic volumes. Cost / value outcome The project was delivered on time, on budget, with superior finish quality by the Architect as Principal Consultant and Superintendent, from a full set of documents issued to a lump sum tender. The completed facility is amongst the most cost effective highly serviced tertiary educational facilities in Australia, by providing 19,000sqm of accommodation for a cost effective $75m construction cost. The innovative precast concrete façade panels were collaboratively designed and developed with the subcontractor and their staff, by researching relevant approaches in international construction technology and testing prototypes at the subcontractor’s factory. Response to client and user needs Brief resulted in high rise towers designed with one tower as ‘smart’ highly serviced for service intensive research uses and other tower as ‘dumb’, but flexible for simple office and learning accommodation uses. Sustainability The SUT ATC is the first project to be awarded Five Stars by design, using the Australian Green Star Education v.1 tool of AGBR. The building is designed to be a practical and affordable low energy facility with an accent on natural venting, daylighting, material reuse and low energy materials. The operation of the project is targeting to produce a 25% reduction of energy consumption in relation to comparable facilities and will be monitored for performance over the life of the building. The design of the building uses the high thermal mass, particularly from the concrete elements, to stabilise internal temperature fluctuations for conditioned and non-conditioned space. Facades with high thermal mass from precast concrete and masonry are balanced with low but sufficient glazing areas, designed to reduce thermal loss and gain, while still having sufficient glazing for adequate daylighting and glare balance. This approach also levels the internal temperature fluctuations. The thermal mass is also topped up with coolth from night purging through the mechanical system. The project is also assisted by passive design from appropriate building design responses for orientations and shading from trafficable balconies. Circulation spaces are designed to avoid using air conditioning and create an entry sequence that delivers joy and engagement from the changing environmental characteristics from passage through the building. The internals optimise the usage of low energy materials, including steel door framing, recycled and recyclable materials. Low energy escalators and no energy open stairs are used as the primary vertical transportation process. Low energy consumption is also assisted by sensible approaches to high volume usage occupant travel paths, from escalators balconies and enclosed stairs. The planning of the building also has a focus on increased space utilization, allowing future flexibility and low energy reconfiguration. The auditorium is designed for increased utilization from retractable seating, paired with minimised artificial lighting from maximized daylighting and natural ventilation options. Advanced commissioning protocols ensured successful handover and operation of the building.

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