Watch full video

University of Sydney Business School

Campus Design Creates Social Glue for Interactive Learning.

In a strategic move to consolidate its facilities across nine buildings on the Camperdown/Darlington campuses, Woods Bagot has designed the flagship home for the new University of Sydney Business School.

Catering to over 6,000 students, the Abercrombie precinct includes three 550-seat lecture theatres, eight 100-seat study rooms, 40 seminar rooms, a learning hub and
1,500 sqm of informal learning space. 

One of the main objectives of the Business School was to reshape the conventional higher education triptych of teaching, learning and research. Drawing on this goal, the vision for the project was to create a 21st century learning environment that fosters productive interactions with the business community while responding to the needs of students.

The functional floor plates provide a spectrum of learning environments positioned around a centrally-located social spine, encouraging collaboration and visual accessibility. Providing transparency and a sense of dynamism from the street to informal learning environments, the building is activated via the use of exposed stairs which link the various floors. 

The exterior skin draws inspiration from the historic and textural character of the neighbouring Darlington terraces and the university quad. The double-skin façade system is intelligently designed to react to both the interior and exterior building adjacencies, with density and rotation of blades responding to desirable sightlines, privacy concerns and daylight penetration to study areas. In a contemporary reinterpretation of historic local sandstone, the stratification of terracotta baguettes integrates the architecture firmly within the campus aesthetic.

The building celebrates the presence of the existing Sydney Blue Gum on the site by establishing the hardwood tree as a central feature around which the building wraps. This strong entry statement also acts as a bold visual and physical link reaching out to the community and main campus. 

Secondary entries throughout the site allow for permeability and openness to the campus and amenities. The building’s design means it is set back 11 m from the property line, ensuring the retention of significant trees which, in addition to landscaped parklands, create a sense of a ‘building in the park’. The landscape concept has delivered a campus environment that supplements and connects the variety of learning and social spaces.

Presenting a new iteration of a university community, the design has facilitated a creative, collegial and collaborative learning and research environment for the next generation of global business leaders.



Engagement with the community

Create an environment which encourages the residential and University community to actively engage. 

The environment is intended to be an active hub, during both night and day, for everyone, with sun filled parkland spaces, a north facing cafe and pedestrian pathways which traverse the site. The building is “in the park,” which allows the edge to be freed up as parkland.

We want to be the very best neighbours in the street. We have minimised and eliminated overshadowing to our neighbours, created a vibrant cafe on Codrington Street and increased the area of public space and parklands.


Create a "market place" of learning which references the historic character of Darlington

A series of buildings, interconnected with canopies and atrium spaces will provide interesting walkways, informal learning and socialisation spaces and be of a scale, elegance and timeless quality which complements the fine urban grain of this historic precinct. The existing H69 building becomes a natural extension of this collection of buildings and is connected via a covered walkway and landscaped forecourts. The architectural vernacular and fine grain of the buildings draws inspiration from the historic and textural character of Darlington terraces and the University Quad.

The existing site is a palimsest, having endured multiple layers of historic change. 

The scheme aims to acknowledges significant elements on site which are remnants of the precinct’s history. Components with heritage value or inherent importance will be retained and integrated into the fabric of the scheme as whole.
  • Significant buildings H05 Joiners shop and H69 will be retained with adaptive reuse.
  • The existing Sydney Blue Gum will be celebrated and retained, a central beacon around which the scheme will wrap.
  • Setback from the school property line, ensuring the retention of significant trees on the adjacent site
  • Recognise historic grid systems

Create a sustainable environment by dominating landscape

The revised building celebrates the location and presence of the Sydney Blue Gum tree by establishing this as a central feature around which the building wraps. The facades of the joinery shop will be integrated into the scheme. The building has been set 11m off the boundary to preserve existing trees in the Darlington Public School and the building works with the site contours. The aspect to the north is maximised for public spaces and a parkland environment is proposed as wrapping around the building.

The proposed development aims to be an exemplar green building. Sustainable design is critical to the proposal’s success and will utilise a wide palette of strategies to create a environmentally responsible scheme. 

This will not only be a building of low greenhouse gas emissions with extensive landscaping, but also a healthy learning environment. 

  • Establish indoor / outdoor relationships through visual and physical access to a variety in scale of courtyard and outdoor spaces between the buildings mass.
  • Circulation space absorbed within the informal learning spaces that form a buffer environment between exterior spaces and periphery teaching spaces. The buffer environment can absorb a wider range of temperature conditions and help reduce energy requirements for conditioning, as well as energy loss from conditioned spaces.
  • Shading and thermal massing are a key concept in the envelope design creating well insulated and thermally protected interior spaces.



University of Sydney Business School


Sydney, Australia


35,000 sqm



Completion Date

February, 2016


Architecture and Interiors (Pre-Novation): Woods Bagot
Architecture (Post-Novation): KannFinch  
Interiors (Post-Novation): KannFinch/ Carr


2017 Commendation, Educational Architecture, AIA NSW Chapter

World Architecture Festival (2016) – Shortlisted, Higher Education and Research

wechat qr code