The new library and administrative service building for the University of Western Sydney (UWS) is now open for business and will direct students towards a more collaborative and socially interactive style of learning.  

Working from a consent approval prepared by BVN Donovan Hill, Allen Jack+Cottier (AJ+C) were responsible for the building’s final design, and the firm’s director Mark Louw hinted that they worked from a changed model for education architecture which focusses on open plan spaces, natural lighting and new styles of learning brought on by technology advances.

“Perhaps the biggest change in universities over the past few years is the increasing focus on collaboration, social interaction and student welfare as integral to education, coupled with access to technology,” said Louw.

“So today’s libraries are much more social and connected and interactive spaces than they used to be, while also providing places for quiet study.”

The new Library consolidates facilities from two campuses into one new building and accommodates centralised administrative services from five other campus libraries.

It has a square floor plan and a landscaped courtyard to the north which allows for the consolidation of spaces such as book stacks, reading areas, amenities, meeting rooms and vertical circulation zones to be arranged around a central atrium space.

AJ+C says they used JV3 – Modelling to optimise the thermal efficiency of the building envelope while achieving the highest possible amount of natural daylight.

This method meant that the building’s façade orientation and glazing placement could better dictate the internal floor plans and maximise the amount of natural light being directed to areas where it is most desired.

Subsequently, the library’s envelope features both robust and light focussed elements which dictate the building’s internal thermal comfort and blend in with the surrounding buildings on the UWS campus.

Bricks were selected and pre blended to achieve the random mottled effect, said AJ+C. The exterior features the following brick ratio: Boral Escura Smooth Face Red (35%), Boral Escura Red Velour (35%), Lincoln Blue Mottle (10%) and Boral Escura Dry Pressed Red Rum (20%).

AJ+C used two different glazing products from Viridian for the UWS Library. The north and south facades adopt Viridian V-Float while the east and west facades are Viridian’s Performa Tech E double glazed units which are argon filled.

Making up the majority of the façade is the exterior brick cladding which covers an insulated concrete internal skin. Aluminium sunscreens and steel mullions that are powder coated in Dulux’s ‘Electro Medium Bronze’ offer a contrasting element to the bricks and mortar and provide shade and support for the variety of the building’s glazing systems.

Inside, the building is modelled to provide functional spaces for students to work in either a collaborative or exclusionary fashion.  It is illuminated by an abundance of natural light in the day, or a combination of T5 and LED lighting fit with motion detectors in ancillary spaces in the night time.

Intertwined within the building fabric is the building’s HVAC which is a Variable Air Volume (VAV) distribution system controlled by a centralised plant.  AJ+C says they chose this system over a chilled beam/chilled ceiling solution because of budget restraints.

The building’s HVAC plant, electricity, gas boosted solar hot water system and water consumption data are all controlled by the Building Management Control System (BMCS).  The library encourages bike use and is linked to the campus cycle network

Photography by Michael Nicholson