Just as teaching and learning methods have changed with emerging technologies, so do education facilities need to keep pace.
The new Tyree Energy Technologies Building at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) not only needed to accommodate new teaching and learning spaces for up to 1240 undergraduate and postgraduate students, it also had to reflect the university's focus on sustainable energy technology research, education and industry collaboration.
Faculty of Engineering development manager Stephen Wooldridge says the school wanted the building to achieve a 6 Star energy rating that would support the university's research into solar photovoltaic technologies, sustainable clean fuels, smart grids, energy storage, energy economics and policy analysis.
"At the same time UNSW wanted a building that would provide a memorable and distinctive address for the campus," Wooldridge says. "It needed to make a strong design statement."
Architect Matthew Todd of Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT), the firm that won the limited entry competition to design the building, says the site was of considerable strategic importance.
"The site is the junction of three interconnected urban zones the retail frontage of Anzac Parade, the tree-lined mall that is the main approach to the university, and the huge oval that forms a village green. This project created an opportunity to create a significant gateway to the university one that would also be a hub of activity."
Todd says the new building needed to respect the existing Modernist architecture and the ceremonial formality of the mall, which forms a strong entry axis and is integral to the identity of the university.
"The significant mature trees also had to be preserved. We needed to integrate the building as much as possible with the landscape. It was also clear that each of the building facades would need to provide a different contextual design response."
"The western facade fronting Anzac Parade needed to bridge the area between the retail strip on one side and the leafy trees on the other. We consequently fractured this facade into three distinct modules. The building weaves in and out of the trees, while at the same time it makes a gesture out towards the streetscape. The eastern laboratory module is turned to acknowledge the orientation of the Village Green."