The new student quarters for Boston University at 15-25 Regent Street, Chippendale is a unique design using fissures to provide maximum solar access to bedrooms as well as natural ventilation throughout the building.
The eight-level, environmentally-efficient building can accommodate up to 164 students. It has three lecture halls, a library, an internet lounge, a rooftop terrace with a timber deck and an adjoining fully-equipped communal kitchen, plus a cafe.
Boston University has been operating in Sydney without fanfare since 1992 when it had 18 students. This semester it is hosting 113 US students, ranging in age from 20 to 22. The students remain in Sydney for just one term and study a broad liberal arts curriculum taught by Australian professors.
Three years ago Boston Universitysaw the need to improve accommodation and facilities for its visiting students, and it engaged local development company Ceerose and local architecture firms Tony Owen Partners and Silvester Fuller to create a “state-of-the-art educational showpiece”.
Tony Owen was recognised because of his work in three-dimensional digital architecture.
His design for the US-based educational institute uses large canyon-like slots in the façade which allow sunlight and ventilation to penetrate deep into the building and into each room.
The windows in these slots have a rhomboid shape to maximise efficiency, and deliver a bold architectural façade which is illuminated at night through an ever-changing light show.
The end walls of the slots are made from glass louvres that are seven storeys high, and the building also contains a seven-storey glass louvred atrium.
Air is drawn through the voids and passes through the building like gills, allowing the building to breathe naturally,” said Owen, whose architectural practice is within a few hundred metres of his latest creation.
“East-facing operable louvres on each level further help to lower ambient temperatures by drawing in fresh breezes.
“The design allows more light and ventilation into each bedroom, provides good views, and would be a sensible ‘blueprint’ for city planners to consider in their quest for ways to increase residential density in the CBD without compromising comfort.”
The architect’s influence in Sydney is set to spread,with the eliza apartment building in Elizabeth Street under construction, another development Owen has designed for Ceerose.
Owen has a further 40 or so local projectsin the pipeline, all of which explore complex shapes, fluid geometries and environmental initiatives.
“Council planners are looking for the best solution, and a high design element helps a project gain approval,” Owen said. “When we combine our design skills with our technology we produce the best commercial outcome for our clients.”
*This article has been updated to remove reference to a comparison between this university building and Frank Gehry's. This is due to a press release recall by Tony Owen Partners.