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    FJMT cover underground theatre with glass and timber pavilion for new Sydney Uni building

    Nathan Johnson

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    Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT) has been chosen from a design competition to deliver a new building for St Andrew’s College at the University of Sydney (UoS) .

    FJMT’s concept for the new Learning and Performing Arts Centre (LPAC) at St Andrew’s College, a residential college of UoS, was chosen ahead of submissions from Tanner Kibble Denton, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer and Hector Abrahams/ Cox Architects and is now in the hands of the City of Sydney Council awaiting approval.

    The architect’s proposal is for a four level mostly underground facility which will accommodate a 200 seat “black box” studio theatre and associated rehearsal rooms, amenities, support facilities and music practice suite, as well as above ground learning suites.

    The building will be located on the south west corner of the campus and within immediate proximity of its iconic sandstone buildings. The site is irregularly shaped and broken in to two portions; a triangular section facing the corner of two streets and a rectangular courtyard bounded by the existing college buildings.

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    The site, is located at the south west corner of the junction of Missenden Road and Carillion Avenue is divided into two distinct zones - a rectangular southern courtyard of the college, bounded by the finely proportioned Sulman and Vaucluse Wings of the Main Building and the more exposed and public triangular corner site. Image: FJMT


    The above ground built element (the Pavilion) grows from the shape of the site and will be defined by a fully glazed triangular sloping form supported by a steel or glass portal structure. The Pavilion’s facade will feature a variety of fine grained timber “objects” that will emit colour and warmth through the transparent glazed volume to the exterior. The objects are either a fixed cladding or manually operable timber blade and are articulated to correspond with the proportions of the adjacent heritage facades. FMJT says the pavilion will also reflect the heritage fabric of the surrounding buildings at different parts of the day.

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    The Pavilion will house a lobby foyer and tutorial rooms and will be the main point of access to the below ground facilities. Image: FJMT


    Inside, and beneath a ground level landscaped common area, is the 200-seat Black Box Theatre, the core of the proposal. It will be rectangular shaped and wrapped by a gallery for additional seating on two of its sides. The remainder of the buildings amenity will be located underground and serviced by the foyer entrance. A series of light wells and large voids have been incorporated into the design to provide natural lighting deep into the underground facility.

    The FJMT concept was chosen by an assessment committee of 14 people which included members of St Andrew;s College staff, alumni and project managers. In a competition report compiled by Praxis project managers the committee says FJMT’s proposal is a clearly defined urban design response that met the brief and contributed positively to the St Andrew’s building fabric.

    “The building is respectful to the neighbouring heritage buildings with regard to massing, scale, transparency to maintain views and sympathetic use of materials,” reads the document.

    “The general consensus was that the proposal was of a high Architectural quality and had a good balance with a strong and unique presence and character which will help define this building amongst the significant neighbouring context.”

    The building has a price tag of near $13 million and is currently being exhibited by the City of Sydney.

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