The Macquarie University Incubator has won a Green Good Design Award in the Research/Technology category.
Designed by Architectus, the Incubator is a prefabricated building at Macquarie University, Sydney which took just five months to construct.
The building was conceived as a space for startups to evolve their ideas and grow their businesses, by amplifying and imbuing deep thinking around innovation, and bringing together entrepreneurial spirit, ingenuity, collaboration and support.
Therefore, the building was designed to respond to the diverse and changing needs of its occupants. The design brief also called for a relocatable building and a short timeframe for its implementation.
"We looked to timber as the main construction material for the Incubator for its capacity to be beautifully engineered, swiftly fabricated to high quality, and for its potential for future dis-assembly and relocation," says Luke Johnson, a principal at Architectus.
"The majority of components were prefabricated offsite to ensure rapid construction on site and minimal disruption to the concurrent university semester. The resulting building was completed within five months of construction commencing, and despite flexibility and relocation being a strong factor of the original design brief, the Incubator has become so well loved that it’s likely it will now remain permanently in its current location."
“Architectus specified a harmonious palette of materials, inclusive of timbers and cork, throughout the Incubator to create a sequence of spaces that are tactile and characteristically warm, and somewhat unexpectedly, the natural aroma of this timber palette is a pleasure for its users.
"A variety of timber species were used throughout, including a ceiling diaphragm of cross laminated timber, large span laminated veneer lumber beams and glulam V columns, as well as spotted gum hardwood and cork for the interior floor surfaces, and plywood for the external walls. Working with partners including Lipman and StrongBuild, these materials allowed us to take an innovative approach to design, while offering potential for a very high degree of reuse should the building ever be relocated.”
To suit the Incubator's purpose, the building was conceived as a pair of pavilions, each with flexible layouts that lend themselves to the future adaptations and functions of the startups inside. A strong driver was the need for collaboration and interaction between individual startups and with each other, as well as privacy for each startup to act as its own business.
"With this in mind, we created open spaces and breakout areas, and smaller, private meeting rooms," says Johnson.
Sustainability was also an important factor in the building's design.
"The building explores principles of passive environmental control, such as operable wall panels to facilitate natural ventilation through the interior, cantilevering roofs to shade the double-glazed windows from excessive solar radiation, electricity generating solar panels on the roof and a monitoring system that provides feedback on the building’s use of energy," says Johnson.
"The rainwater runoff from the roof is also reticulated through the surrounding landscape for irrigation."