Hassell’s design of the Australian National University Research School expansion has officially welcomed students, staff and researchers to the space, with a number of versatile research platforms and academic workplaces to assist in providing first-rate discovery and engagement. 

The opening of the space caps the first of a four-stage Hassell-designed master plan for the Physics precinctembarked upon by architect and client. A stunning 1600 sqm flexible nanofabrication laboratory sits as the centrepiece, while 22 ultra-stable labs will allow physics researchers to advance the frontiers of quantum physics, photonics, and nanotechnology.

hassell anu research school

ANU’s Director of the School of Physics, Tim Senden, believes the facility serves as the embodiment of a new era of innovation and discovery for the institution.

“Over the past 50 years or so, we locked physics away and now this new building puts it back in the spotlight,” he says. 

“The design brings the rest of the university in, and having that spectacular view, it's bringing the public in too.”

hassell anu research school

The laboratories have been repositioned to sit in close proximity to neighbourhood workspaces, enabling students and researchers to share knowledge amongst one another. 

Social areas boost camaraderie further, encouraging impromptu interactions between the physics research cohort, students, and visitors. Cross Laminated Timber was utilised for the atrium staircases to minimise EMF impacts to adjacent stable labs.

hassell anu research school

"The environment invites discoveries and engaging collaborations and is a place to communicate new understanding,” Senden continues. 

“The design brings people close to an extremely active and potentially hazardous space but does that safely without locking things away behind walls. Privacy and openness are balanced throughout the building as the glass invites people to look in and understand even if they can't touch."

hassell anu research school

Hassell Principal Mark Roehrs says balancing complex and technical laboratory requirements with contemporary architectural elements created challenges for the practice.

“Most importantly, it creates beautiful spaces that the scientists enjoy being in - intimate but visually interconnected spaces animated in soft atrium light with the warm materiality of timber framing transparency and outlook,” says Roehrs.

hassell anu research school

The nanofabrication facility, likened to a ballroom due to its layout, can be reconfigured infinitely to ensure longevity of use. The facility additionally achieves exceptionally high standards for air particulate filtration, vibration and acoustic isolation.