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    More vertical blades for UNSW as Grimshaw reveals second contribution to new precinct

    Nicholas Rider

    Grimshaw has revealed its design for the University of New South Wales’s (UNSW) new Science and Engineering Building (SEB).

    The SEB will be Grimshaw’s second contribution to UNSW’s Physical Sciences precinct at the Kensington Campus, following the completion of the Material Sciences and Engineering Building (MSEB) early last year.

    The SEB design and function will integrate with the MSEB and also takes design and material cues from its older brother.

    Like the MSEB, SEB’s façade will be dressed in vertically aligned Glass-fibre Reinforced Concrete (GRC) louvres, oriented to provide optimal levels of thermal and solar protection for the building year-round. The individual blades are spaced to minimise direct sunlight penetration through the envelope while maximising natural day-lighting into the interior spaces. All blades are 600mm deep x 4500mm high x 150mm wide, varying only in their relative orientation to the façade.

    The angle of the solar blades responds to the internal organisation of spaces within. Similar to the MSEB, this has been achieved by ‘opening’ up the blades where maximised natural daylight penetration is required to the breakout spaces along the northern façade. Where the offices occur the blades are angled to minimise direct solar gain, while maintaining views out from the building.

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    The building’s parapet will top out at 69 metres, the same height at the Material Science and Engineering building which was also designed by Grimshaw.

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    Inspiration and performance: Grimshaw suggests that after being in use for a year, the Material and Sciences Engineering Building demonstrated that its facade provided significant reductions to the solar gains and a good level of shading across all office areas. Images: Grimshaw and John Gollings


    The SEB and MSEB will be adjacent to each other, and will directly connect in the basement and on levels 1 – 7 by bridge links. The new building will take advantage of beneficial adjacencies, providing interconnection between the two buildings to enable sharing of infrastructure and spaces.

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    The ground floor opens up onto the future Alumni Park and as such the terrazzo stone paving of the colonnade of MSEB will be continued through to the new proposed building, providing a common ground for both buildings.


    As well as providing world-class research and teaching facilities for the School of Chemical Engineering and the School of Chemistry, the building’s amenities will also cater for other disciplines. These facilities include centrally allocated teaching spaces (CAT), the Lower Campus Precinct Store, new research infrastructure facilities for the Marc Wainwright Analytical Centre (MWAC), along with two new multi-function dance and performance studios for the School of Arts & Media.

    A primary feature of the SEB is the highly flexible modular laboratory spaces, a similar characteristic of the MSEB. This supports a goal of providing a facility that encourages interdisciplinary research and teaching.

    Surrounding the laboratory zone are offices, meeting rooms and breakout spaces.

    Set within an updated strategic plan for the lower campus, the new development addresses the current context of the university, and its future endeavours, such as the College Walk, the Lightrail Stop and the Alumni Park.

    Measures that will be implemented to minimise consumption of resources, water and energy include access to daylight via floor to ceiling glazing, high-efficiency central plant systems, efficient LED lighting, and water-efficient fixtures and fittings. The development will also be assessed against the Green Star Design & As Built v1 rating tool.

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