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South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute

Major Urban Research Building Repositions Adelaide as a Health and Medical Research Center

Reinforcing South Australia as a major health and medical research center, the 323,000-square-foot (30,000-square-meter) building is positioned alongside the Royal Adelaide Hospital and accommodates up to 700 researchers from around the world. The transparent facade showcases two internal atriums, while the building’s form is further expressed by its unique triangulated dia-grid facade inspired by the skin of a pine cone and responds to the position of the sun. The sculptural qualities of SAHMRI’s form aim to inspire and promote the building’s function. Inside, employees enjoy nine flexible research modules.



Urban design and public domain

The SAHMRI will build upon the quality of the North Terrace Boulevard and reinforce the new medical and health precinct to the West side of the City. A state of the art facility that will provide a resource to both the public and the users to seamlessly interact with its surroundings, show casing sustainable urban design strategies and successfully interact with Adelaide’s public transport, cycling and walking networks.

The built form arrangement of the SAHMRI acknowledges its sense of place within the green belt of the Adelaide parklands. The lifting of the building allows the parklands to extend below and create a notion of a “Building in the Parkland”.

The open ground plane and integrated landscape allows for greater activation and porosity through the site. It’s forecourt adjacent the new hospital will also encourage interaction and exchange by staff, visitors and the general public.

Architectural expression

Derived from its unique site geometry and need to create a forecourt entry adjacent the new hospital to the west, the diamond shape plan grows from the ground plane to become a “follie” in the park.

The sculpture qualities of its form aim to attract interest inspire and promote the buildings function. The lifting of the building acts to liberate the ground plane to encourage public interaction, while the transparent facade showcases the 2 atriums inside the building. The west atria expresses the entry and bridge links between the laboratories while the east atria expresses the active workplace environment inside. Together with the expression of the laboratory flues outside the west facade, the function of the building is clear and aims to promote the importance of the research within.

The building form is further expressed by its unique triangulated diagrid facade inspired by the skin of a pine cone. The form and its articulated skin adapt and respond to its environment, becoming a living organism. The triangulated structure and articulated sunshade allows for a singular skin to the building to create a sculptured object.

Facade geometry developed from the basic functional program of the building floor plate sculpted to express an organic object from its inherent functional symmetry, ready for the application of the triangular diagrid skin modulation. This modulation had to integrate with both human scale and the higher floor to floor separation required by the intense services of a laboratory building.



South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and Department of Planning, Transport & Infrastructure (DPTI)


Adelaide, Australia


25,000 sq m



Completion Date





R&D Magazine Laboratory of the Year - Australian Institute of Architects Awards 

Commendation, Public Architecture - South Australian Architecture Awards 

Winner, Public Architecture 

Winner, Commercial Architecture 

Winner, Interior Architecture 

Winner, Sustainable Architecture

Winner, Steel in Architecture Colorbond

WAF Awards, Future Project, Health 

Shortlist - WAN Awards, Healthcare Unbuilt 

Shortlist - WAN Awards, Façade Award 

Highly Commended - Design Institute of Australia 

Gold, Built Environment 

Winner, DIA President’s Award 

Winner, Laminex Award - Interior Design Excellence Awards 

Shortlist, Public Space - Design & Health International Academy Awards, Future Health Project 

Finalist - MIPIM Future Project Awards 2011 

Commended - Revit Technology Conference 2014, Innovation Prize (Design Technology Excellence)

Runner-up - Australian Institute of Builders 

Professional excellence award, Commercial construction $100 million plus

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