University of New South Wales Biological Sciences, Stage 2

Science on Display: Designing a Research Center

Spread over eight floors of modern scientific research and teaching laboratories, this new facility provides a vibrant educational environment for more than 550 staff and Ph.D. students and 360 undergraduate biomedical students. As a complete refurbishment of the existing Bioscience Building, this project comprises the second stage establishment of a leading research institution at the university. The collaborative habitat for on-display, research-led teaching is designed to encourage interdisciplinary teamwork and create dynamic social areas that tie the campus together as a whole.

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Leveraging the existing structure, the architectural approach combines landscape with built form to generate a strong sense of place in continuity with its surroundings. The façade follows the simple vertical rhythm of the neighboring buildings while carrying over the digital expression of the butterfly-inspired Stage 1 surface. Compared with that terracotta palate, these colors are muted to sit softly against the backdrop of the other two buildings which are both strong in their coloration.

The rigorous planning promotes collaboration through a number of active coworking zones. Aligning these areas on top of key infrastructure created two primary social hubs, encouraging interaction as well as vertical mobility—via a monolithic stair—across the floors. A central atrium connects the two biosciences buildings (Stages 1 and 2), joining them as one site. At the ground level, student amenities and informal spaces engage the outside through the raised glass front.  Picking up the external color scheme, a vertical gradient from yellow to deep red is expressed throughout the interior—most notably in the stair that flanks the atrium spaces, defining a visual identity for each level and assisting in wayfinding.

Internally, the concept of putting science on display guided much of the plan. Teaching areas on the busy lower levels feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows that promote visibility. Making the most of a narrow floorplate, flexible laboratory spaces on the upper levels are centralized. Facing the central circulation space and surrounded by a host of specialist zones, they continue the motif of transparency. Workplaces are arranged at the ends of these floors to best capture natural lighting and views.

Key social spaces on the ground floor are anchored by joinery display, tailored to specific seating and display arrangements. Mimicking cellular structures, the softly curved forms of the social hubs serve as wayfinding elements to inhibit movement through and around them. Floating timber seating pods serve to visually anchor the space, but also add warmth and a human-scaled space for students to comfortably gather.

Client

Brookfield Multiplex

Status

Built

Location

Sydney, Australia

Completion Date

2019

Size

16,250 square meters

The refurbished exterior creates a stronger connection to Stage 1 in that they both display a similar vertical rhythm responding to the grids required to house laboratories and research spaces.

The material for the refurbished façade is comprised of several horizontal partitions with a grey metal finish to diminish the appearance of the mass while providing the required air intake and exhaust requirements.

D 26 functions as the main entrance to the Biological Sciences buildings, animating the surrounding gardens through its active ground floor.

The soaring central atrium connects the two biosciences buildings, creating a framework of transparency. A grid of color helps with wayfinding and distinguishing the purpose of each floor.

The renovated facility aims to promote collaboration and interdisciplinary teamwork through centralized and shared services, enhancing the campus experience via clear wayfinding and an activated ground floor plane.

Working with a narrow floor plate, laboratory spaces face the atrium circulation, continuing the notion of transparency into labs but in a more public manner.  To allow the laboratories to evolve over time, mobile lab benching systems were employed to enable easy reconfiguration.

The inclusion of active social spaces throughout break down silos ad encourage informal interaction.