Located alongside the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, this project reinforces South Australia as a major center for medical research. The state-of-the-art facility accommodates approximately 700 researchers from around the world while the iconic architecture is meant to symbolize, inspire and promote the building’s function.
A uniquely shaped site and the need to create an entry adjacent to the hospital led to an elevated diamond-shaped plan that allows the parklands to extend below. The lifted building and integrated landscape act to liberate the ground plane, inviting greater activation and porosity throughout the site. Developed out of the basic program of the floor plates, the sculpted envelope reflects the functional symmetry of the space. A transparent façade showcases the two atriums within the building: the west atrium expresses the entry and bridge links between the laboratories and the east one articulates the active workplace environment.
The building’s form is accentuated by the triangulated diagrid façade that functions environmentally as well as aesthetically. Inspired by a pinecone, the skin simulates a living organism with sunshades that adapt and respond to the sun’s orientation to mitigate daylight, heat load, glare and wind noise, while enhancing views and natural lighting and reducing energy use. This external treatment was selected early on to optimize the building’s conflicting requirements of large spans, curved envelope and the stringent vibration conditions needed for sensitive laboratory equipment. To meet the various environmental, programmatic and formal stipulations for this initiative, technical experts utilized parametric modeling tools RHINO and Grasshopper.
The key driver of the building design is to foster collaboration between researchers. This is achieved by atria and bridges, visual connection between floors and the interconnecting spiral stair. The facility provides nine fully flexible wet and dry laboratory modules. Each module—comprising open lab space with benches, lab support rooms and write-up space—are connected by the lobby and bridge via the atria and arranged adjacently to encourage interaction and transparency.
This is the first LEED Gold laboratory building in Australia, attained by moves such as the passive design of the floor plates and the use of a diagrid façade, both of which optimize natural light and minimize energy use. Other sustainable initiatives include collection and recycling of water, reduction in energy loads and intelligent mechanical systems that draw air in from the cooler lower levels. Providing a resource to both the public and its users, the facility showcases sustainable urban design strategies and successfully interact with the city’s public transport, cycling and walking networks.