University of Sydney - Jane Foss Russell Building

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University of Sydney - Jane Foss Russell Building

University of Sydney - Jane Foss Russell Building

The primary design theme of the Jane Foss Russell Building as both an urban planning and building response is the stitching together of the Camperdown and Darlington campuses of the University of Sydney separated by City Road. The original 1920's Wilkinson master plan for the Camperdown campus included formal x-shaped pathways, ignored by later development. This plan was 'sampled' and used as an emblem for the new civic square dedicated to the students and public alike – a new civic gesture that focuses diagonal pedestrian flows. The urban diagram of a networked movement path is extended by a new bridge over City Road that links the old campus with the new – an invitation to connect. The dynamic spatial experience of the plaza, already set in place by its non-frontal approaches, is accentuated further by the manner in which its north and south limits are blurred. To the north an open-air amphitheatre climbs up toward City Road, creating a venue for impromptu outdoor performance. To the south a covered terrace provides sheltered outdoor space and another leg of the plaza steps down toward the natural landscape of Maze Green. Where there are walls bounding the plaza, they are bordered by a colonnade creating a partially complete traditional academic quadrangle. The brief called for a new consolidated library for the faculties of architecture, engineering and science and this has been set below the new student plaza. While visually subterranean at the    

 City Road end the library invites the adjacent Maze Green landscape into its stepping, terraced interior space. The open-air amphitheatre in the plaza above becomes a light-scoop for the library below. Along the City Road footpath a serrated window provides views from the street into the library space below and through to a glimpse of Maze Green. A colour field is generated by the tops of the Marmoleum clad bookshelves. A simple L-configuration building plan form has been adopted for the student services offices perched above the civic plaza. The facades of this building have been considered as separate fabrics, each designed to suit its aspect and respond accordingly to the prevailing environmental conditions. The fabric has then been tailored at its edges to create openings and clothe program on each face. The Maze Green facade is a blue glass curtain wall with a reflective folded spandrel that fragments into a reflected mosaic of cloud and sky. The plaza facade takes its cue from the canopy of heritage fig trees that line the immediate streetscape of City Road - a foliage of green glass and multi-coloured spandrels. This facade is a layered system of glass, aluminium and frit patterning over the glass. The seraphic frit is a repetitive pattern based upon an abstract seedpod image - connoting organic development and growth. The façade-with-applied-graphic is also a reference to our initial investigations of the site and its graffiti-covered walls.  

The jury found that the scheme by John Wardle/Wilson Architects/GHD was the clear winner for USYD Central, with no commendations awarded to the other proposals.” Andrew Mackenzie, The Australian Institute of Architects Award for Public Architecture (NSW)

This project is being produced John Wardle Architects in association with Wilson Architects and GHD

John Wardle Architects – The Design and Project Architect
Wilson Architects – The Consulting Architect – Library Briefing Phase
GHD P/L – The Consulting Architect - Construction Phase


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