A wide range of glazing products from Viridian (formerly Pilkington and DMS Glass) was used for the glazing of a new building at Swinburne University of Technology designed by the Melbourne-based H2o architects.  

Swinburne University of Technology’s Advanced Technologies Centre (ATC) is the university’s single largest investment in its 100-year history and represents its technological focus across 19,000m² of state-of-the-art research and learning centres within a 2000m² footprint.  

The first educational building in the country to be awarded a five star Green Star rating using the Education v.1 Tool from the Green Building Council of Australia, Swinburne’s ATC is home to facilities such as the Brain and Psychological Sciences Research Centre, Nanophotonics Applications Lab, Robert Simpson High Temperature Processing Laboratory and the Advanced Molecular and Proteomics facility.  

The ATC also houses the largest Smart Structures Test Laboratory in the southern hemisphere, where large-scale testing of civil infrastructure, aerospace, automotive and mining engineering components takes place.  

The ATC’s twin 10-level towers sit behind two smaller 3-level structures. The upper levels of the ATC feature precast concrete facades that simultaneously provide thermal mass, differentiate the building and flag the facility’s non-commercial use.  

Circular patterns on the concrete and circular façade glazing, featuring Viridian clear laminated glass and Viridian VFloat Grey laminated glass strengthen the buildings’ appearance.  

H2o Director Mark O’Dwyer says that Swinburne wanted a facility that had a sense of ‘transparency’, which would allow the wider community to look into the heart of the university.  

A range of glass types from Viridian has been used to encase the lower levels of the ATC to create a heavily glazed base that provides a softening contrast to the concrete and allows passers-by a glimpse of the work being done within.  

A highlight of the new ATC building is a glass enclosed lecture theatre built to accommodate 500 people and glazed with Viridian Low E ComfortPlus that maximises natural daylight and minimises the need for artificial lighting.  

Another focal point of the ATC’s ground level is the Smart Structures Test Laboratory that comprises of a 1m thick reinforced concrete floor and 1m thick concrete walls. Situated on the building’s Burwood Road frontage, the testing space is clearly visible through a 9m high glazed wall to passers-by or commuters stuck in peak traffic outside.  

Mark comments that glass is a key component of the ATC’s lower levels. Instead of using an ‘off-the-shelf’ glazing system, the architects used structural glazing tape to adhere the glass to the steel framing. Developed in-house, this method makes the frame secondary to the glass.  

In addition to supplying the glass for the project, Viridian carried out the actual installation of the glass, working with the architects, builder, fabricator and tape supplier through various problems.  

The same glazing method was used for the balconies and the glazed bridges while the external bridge roofs were glazed with Viridian VFloat Grey glass.  

According to Ian Kennedy from Viridian, structural glazing is usually completed off-site, but they decided to transport the necessary glazing machinery to Swinburne for the project and glazed the panels into position.  

Function was as important as form when designing the ATC. Swinburne required the ATC to have a strong ESD focus.  

The building is designed to be a practical and affordable low energy facility with an accent on natural venting, daylighting, material reuse and low energy/recycled materials. The ATC is targeting a 25% reduction in energy consumption to that of comparable facilities, and will be monitored for performance over its life.  

Passive solar design is central to the ATC’s energy-efficient operations. The high thermal mass provided by the concrete facades is supported by the use of Viridian ComfortPlus, which minimises unwanted heat loss and heat gain.  

Skylights fitted with VFloat Grey laminated toughened glass and Viridian laminated toughened clear glass, are featured throughout the ATC to increase natural daylight.  

Highlights of Viridian glazing at the Swinburne ATC:

  • Lecture theatre internal and external glazing: Viridian 12.38mm ComfortPlus Clear 82 VLam toughened glass 
  • External and internal glazing to learning hub: 12.38mm ComfortPlus Clear 82 VLam 
  • North face to entry concourse wall and roofs of external bridges: Viridian 12.38mm laminated VFloat Grey glass 
  • Round façade windows: Viridian 6.38mm clear laminated glass and Viridian VFloat Grey laminated glass 
  • North faces of all external bridges: Viridian 10.38mm laminated VFloat Grey glass 
  • Skylights at north/south concourse: Viridian 10.76mm thick VFloat Grey laminated toughened glass 
  • Spandrel façade glazing: Viridian toughened glass with opaque spandrel interlayer film 
  • Balcony external windows, strong cell walls (internal and external), east, west and south faces of entry concourses, internal glazed walls and south faces of bridges: Viridian 10.38mm clear toughened glass 
  • Learning hub west and east spandrel walls: Viridian 10.38mm laminated glass colour backed (opaque) 
  • Internal framed windows, highlight internal windows in learning hub: Viridian 8.38mm laminated glass 
  • Roofs of airlocks, skylights at east/west concourse with 4-sided structural support: Viridian 10.76mm laminated toughened clear glass 
  • Roofs of airlocks with 2-sided structural support: Viridian 16.76mm laminated toughened clear glass