Architecture practice Allen Jack+Cottier won an award in the Commercial Energy Efficiency category at Viridian’s Vision Awards 2011 with its organic design for the Kerrie Murphy Building, a four-level multipurpose primary education facility and part of the International Grammar School in Sydney’s Ultimo.  

Designed by principal and design architect Michael Heenan, the Kerrie Murphy Building is part of the Government’s BER program. The new building design combines the toughness of concrete with the flexibility and lightness of glass.  

Describing the design process, Michael Heenan explains that he has always been interested in contrasting concrete against glass with its precision, beautiful reflective properties and ability to change its energy ratings and U values.  

Designed for primary school kids, the building design sets out to reflect the joy, excitement and discovery about learning at that age, says Mr Heenan.  

A highlight of the Kerrie Murphy Building is a series of ‘Amoeba’ windows punched into the sides of the building. The teardrop glazing designs were achieved with Viridian ComfortPlus laminated glass from Viridian (formerly Pilkington and DMS Glass) that was waterjet cut to size and shape. The neutral Low-E glass was installed using VHB structural glazing tape.  

High performance glazing from Viridian was used to eliminate concerns about glare. The heat build wasn’t an issue because of the U value and the solar heat gain coefficient in the glass.  

In addition to helping the building achieve all of the energy rating requirements, the glass also needed to be cut perfectly, factory fitted onto the panels and then transported to site. Though it is an expensive glazing system, Mr Heenan says that there are no frames or onsite installation to deal with, saving a lot of effort.  

According to Michael Heenan, there is a whole lot of glass used throughout the building including operable louvres in all four corners backed up to a building maintenance unit, which allows the school to select between natural ventilation and air-conditioning mode.  

Being a school, the new building design required two sets of fire stairs at either end of the building. Two stairs were built in a single shaft in a double helix arrangement.  

Viridian Pyrostop glass was used externally to create a wall of glass that allowed views from one staircase to the other within the shaft.  

Concrete used to build the facility has been designed as a composite panel made up of 180mm of concrete on the inside, 50mm of high density polystyrene and then another 60mm slab forming the outer skin, making a perfectly insulated panel.  

Explaining the energy efficiency of the design, Michael Heenan says that a night purge can be done by trickling in free cool air through the partially open windows so that it cools the whole building ahead of time, reducing the radiant energy and allowing the facility to be in natural ventilation mode more often.  

Highlights of Viridian glass used in the Kerrie Murphy Building project: 

  • 10.38mm laminated Viridian ComfortPlus neutral Low-E glass, waterjet cut to size and shape into ‘Amoeba’ windows 
  • 6.38mm laminated Viridian ComfortPlus neutral Low-E glass for aluminium framed glazing 
  • ‘Amoeba’ windows were cut to four different sizes ranging from 0.2m² to 0.97 m² 
  • Fixing mechanism to frameless ‘Amoeba’ windows was developed by AJ&C in conjunction with 3M and Baseline Constructions