A dramatic design featuring cascading glass and sculptural brickwork has been unveiled as the winning proposal for the University of Technology Sydney's new industry hub, signalling the ongoing transformation of the university's historic Blackfriars precinct and broader city campus.
Contemporary yet complementary, the design reflects the innovative and collaborative nature of the work that will happen inside it while thoughtfully responding to the historic character of the Chippendale site, which has been an education precinct for over 130 years.
Nestled in the heart of Sydney's vibrant digital creative hub, the new seven-level building has been purpose designed to accommodate a range of research projects with industry partners, including the startup community, which will collaborate with UTS researchers and students. At the same time it is intended as a highly flexible space that can adapt to the changing needs of the university.
"This is a design that embodies the spirit of UTS – it's bold, focused on the future but deeply connected to its surroundings. It showcases our commitment to creativity, sustainability and engagement with industry and the community," says Professor Attila Brungs, Vice-Chancellor of UTS, who was also one of the jurors for the design competition.
"Working closely with industry has always been a part of our DNA and this facility will take those partnerships to the next level. Simply having the space to attract more of these collaborations will boost the culture of innovation and creativity within the precinct.
"UTS's campus has been designed to be porous – connecting with the community and industry around us. There are no walls or fences around UTS. All of our buildings are designed to incorporate and facilitate industry and community engagement and co-working. However this new, dedicated industry hub will take joint industry research and collaboration to new heights."
Sydney firm Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects (TZG) is behind the winning proposal, which the competition jury applauded for its response to the vision, function and context of the new facility.
"The architect's response to the brief was inspired, designing a building that is striking and progressive in its architecture but seamlessly fits into this heritage area," says Professor Brungs.
The building's eye-catching façade features cascading glass on the south side and brick fronting Buckland St. These materials respond to the form of the 1880s Blackfriars School building adjacent to it, with the angled glass a modern reinterpretation of the neo-gothic architecture of the historic precinct buildings. The glass also cleverly reflects the past while creating visual connections to the activity inside.
Sustainability features are prominent in the building's design, which is targeting a minimum 5 star certified Green Star rating, and includes photovoltaics on the roof and facade, exterior sun-control fins and natural ventilation via motorised louvres to minimise heat and maximise natural light inside. The rainwater collection system built into the glass façade doubles as an opportunity for public art, with the potential to create a controlled "waterfall effect" around the southern entrance to the building. As well as visually striking, the water will help to cool the building in summer.
"Inspired by UTS's vision to engage with the city and industry, we have conceived a hub for the rich Blackfriars context that declares this, our century's building technology in its contemporary expression," says Tim Greer, Director at TZG.
"The façade is reflective of the approach, namely the use of technologically advanced materials that are intuitive for the occupants."
Artist's impression of a collaborative space on level 3. Credit: TZG Architects
Interior spaces are designed around a central sculptural steel stair – intended as another work of art "encased" in glass – and will be defined by open-plan, collaborative spaces that can be adapted as needs change.
The winning TZG proposal was selected following a six-way design competition that launched in July 2017 and was assessed by an expert panel chaired by Professor Ken Maher, Chair of the City of Sydney Design Advisory Panel. The design is subject to approval by the Department of Planning and Environment.
The new industry hub continues the evolution of UTS's Blackfriars precinct, which recently saw the opening of the new Blackfriars Children's Centre at the southern end of the precinct, as well as the ongoing transformation of UTS's city campus in Ultimo. The new building will be constructed on the site of the old childcare centre.