The new science building at Edith Cowen University (ECU), Joondalup Campus in Perth stands out for its striking façade, which features the world’s largest periodic table. The thoughtful design by Silver Thomas Hanley Architects responded to the brief to deliver a bold and sophisticated architectural statement in the urban setting. The façade featuring the periodic table celebrates the building’s purpose as a centre of scientific research and learning. Based on the university vice chancellor Professor Steve Chapman’s idea, the periodic table is an enormous 662 square metres, spanning the entire front façade of the building.

ECU's feature ‘Periodic Table’ is made up of 360 Kingspan Hook-On cassettes in four different colours. While the Hook-On cassettes were used to build the periodic table, a combination of both Flat and Shadow Dri-Design cassettes were used to provide architectural expression to the other three elevations, also integrating elements from within the periodic table, though using much larger perforated lettering to expand on the feature.

Kingspan’s cassettes go much beyond serving a visual purpose; the energy-efficient material also responds to the local climate to maintain a comfortable temperature inside the building by creating a screen that helps deflect solar heat and control glare, while also allowing natural light into the rooms. Blank panels have been left on the periodic table to add new elements that may be discovered in the future. The simple colour and material palette draws on the visual language of the original buildings, creating a stunning yet harmonious addition to the campus.

Featuring a unique design and construction, the cassette systems can be installed twice as fast as comparable systems, helping Multiplex pull back a delayed site programme once the installation of the façade started.

Eurobond Rainspan from Kingspan was specified as the structural substrate to the rainscreen façade. An exceptional thermal insulator, it provides continuity of insulation across the building envelope and delivers superior air tightness. The two Kingspan products came together to enhance building performance by reducing operational costs, energy consumption, and ultimately, the building’s carbon footprint.

The Rainspan panels provided a simple substrate to the Dri Design cassettes, allowing them to be directly fixed to their external steel skin, utilising the structural integrity of the insulated panels and removing the requirement for the traditional top hat support method. This further enhanced the thermal performance of the building, eliminating the usual thermal bridging that occurs when using a top hat and stud frame support method.

Kingspan insulated RW roof panels provided a thermal solution to close the roof off, encapsulating the complete building envelope in a structural and thermal performance warranty provided by Kingspan. Membrane lined insulated box gutters were integrated with the roof system to further enhance the insulation performance of the building. 

Completed in early 2020, the building is now ready for students studying science, medicine or nursing courses.