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University of Sydney Business School

Campus Design Creates Social Glue for Interactive Learning

With a bent for the natural environment and sustainability, the renovated center for the University of Sydney’s Business School provides a place for innovation, learning, and socialization for both its 6,000 students and the local business community. The solution was to consolidate what was previously several facilities spread out on the campus into a single, cohesive site with nine buildings oriented around both historic buildings and trees.

The redesign culminated into a 40,000-square-meter area—dubbed the Abercrombie Precinct—which now includes significant interventions such as a 550-seat-lecture hall, eight 100-seat study rooms, 40 seminar rooms, a learning hub, a café, and an additional 15,000 square meters of informal learning space.

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Between each facility are deliberately designed green spaces and exterior stairways that link each building placed along the precinct’s “spine,” or the central pathway. The east-facing entry point is fashioned in a V-shape to accommodate a historical Blue Gum tree. Additionally, all the constructions are set back 11 meters from the property line to give the area the feeling of a public park.

The building is equipped with a layered façade to provide shading and thermal massing with a double-skin building envelope. Interior circulation spaces act as a buffer between the outside and periphery teaching spaces to reduce energy use for the heating and cooling systems. This asset helped meet the university’s sustainability requirements while aligning with the City of Sydney’s program.


University of Sydney Business School




Sydney, Australia

Completion Date

February 2016


40,000 square meters





2017 Commendation, Educational Architecture, AIA NSW Chapter

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


The clustered buildings interconnect with canopies and atrium spaces to provide a diversity of spaces for teaching and learning.

The building was set back 11 meters to retain significant native trees and create a park-like setting.

Reinterpreting the historic local sandstone, the stratification of terracotta baguettes integrates the architecture within the campus esthetic.

Stair linkages work to activate the building, promoting pedestrian movement between levels.

To foster visibility and collaboration, functional floor plates provide a spectrum of learning environments around a central spine.

“Social glue” spaces provide transparency to the informal internal and external learning environments.