Architectus have proposed a new glass building for the University of Sydney which will form a dynamic backdrop to one of the campus’ historic buildings.

The new Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences (FASS) building is being billed as a sensitive response to the challenges of the site which include its heritage environment and the relatively constrained shape.

It will be located on a skinny site between Parramatta Road and the University’s 1916-built R.D. Watt building, and will sit adjacent to Walter Liberty Vernon’s Heydon-Laurence building, opened in 1899. The 6-level project will take on a slight V-shape as it aligns with Heydon-Laurence to the east and the Future Life Sciences Building to the west.


The orientation subtly shifts from the alignment of the Heydon-Laurence building to the alignment of the future Stage 2 Life Sciences Building, effectively bending around R.D. Watt 

The continuity, repetition and subtle movement  of the new building's skin creates a dynamic back drop to the R.D. Watt building. 

The FASS building skin will be predominately glass sitting atop a stone plinth, which lowers and rises to accommodate changes in level across the site. The glass skin is a curtain wall with bronze anodised framing and a strong vertical emphasis. The skin wraps the building in a continuous spiral, only coming to ground at the change in level in the new courtyard. At the top of the building the smaller floor plate allows for a landscaped roof terrace and the wrapping skin comes to an end in the roof light construction.

Along Parramatta Road the base is recessed to allow the main mass of the building to float above the established hedge and to avoid certain services easements. 

In their DA, Architectus emphasised that their design aims for collaboration and a sense of community and that they attempted to achieve this through providing transparency and connectivity. For example, inside the building the architects have created a central atrium space that physically and visually connects all floors. Glass lifts and open stairs connect the floors allowing for physical and visual interaction and key collaboration spaces are situated around the atrium, enabling informal and structured interactions across the faculty in an open and engaging environment.

The new building intends to be a space of collaboration, community, sustainability, excellence, integration, quality and innovation.

On the top floor a large meeting room connects a landscaped roof terrace which is purposefully located to the east and south to prevent noise from Parramatta Road and provide views across the campus towards the main Quadrangle.

The building also endeavours for social, environmental and financial sustainability. Socially, the internal space takes in good daylight and views. Environmentally, the building design encompasses sustainable material selections, optimum solar orientation, daylight harvesting, potential for solar energy capture, potential for water harvesting for grey-water recycling and optimum acoustic orientation. Financially, the building strives to be efficient and cost effective, delivering value for money, with low maintenance costs.

The project is one of a string of new developments being proposed by the University of Sydney, including two new additions from HDR Rice Daubney and Grimshaw.

Images: Architectus