Building A is the ‘foundation’ building for Southern Cross University’s Gold Coast Campus with a contract value of $18 million. The new campus has been master planned to sit within the GoldCoastAirportDevelopmentPark with the first stage ready to receive students in early 2010. The building floor area of approximately 4800m2 is spread over four levels. It accommodates a range of general teaching spaces, library, IT labs, lecture theatre, academic offices and support facilities. In order to encourage activities and interaction, the building is ‘permeable’ at ground level with co-location of a café, student interaction areas, student services hub and multi-purpose room. Strong visual and spatial connections are established to the Grand Forecourt, Pedestrian Spine and the future Building B. The main staircase is enclosed in full glass curtain-wall and features prominently to announce the main building entry. It creates a transparent, light-filled space promoting the use of stairs for inter-floor movement. Generous landing spaces provide informal areas for interaction. On the top floor, the library exploits the views to the north with an upper level terrace capturing sea views to KirraBeach. The ‘U’ plan-form of the building encloses a central courtyard which acts as a semi-sheltered outdoor room, opening out towards views of the NSW border and is large enough to host most university functions.The building facades reflect a simple, clean, honest expression of materials and structure with sun-shading to openings providing detail and interest. Due to it’s visibility and the fact that it will be the first building constructed, Building A is treated as a ‘signature’ building. It will set the standard for following buildings and provide an identity for Southern Cross University. This evolution of ideas within a predetermined framework will begin to establish the basis for a unified campus realizing the objectives of the Master Plan. The eventual built form strategy will comprise of seven to eight buildings for the entire four hectare campus site with building heights from four to ten storeys. The emphasis of the Master Plan will be the distribution of building types to ensure maximum site capacity whilst also accommodating future growth. Fundamental to the Master Plan is the creation of a strong sense of arrival when travelling by vehicle, foot, cycle or light rail (future proposal) along the main approach from Tweed Heads Bypass. This is anticipated to be achieved through a gateway statement at the Grand Forecourt with the iconic architecture of Building A (foundation building) and the future Building B (landmark building). The planning of the Building A establishes the street presence of the Campus along the primary frontage of the site and the building is orientated to benefit from favourable coastal views, the rehabilitated watercourse and biodiversity corridor. Conceptually, the activities within the building have been grouped into teaching spaces and office spaces. These zones are vertically aligned and are separated by generous circulation areas accommodating stairs, lifts and amenities. The university anticipates student enrolments at 750 EFTSU in 2010, rising to 2000 EFTSU by 2011/2012 and intends to offer initial course options in business, convention and event management, tourism management and legal studies on the new campus to complement their 2 other existing facilities at Tweed Heads. Teaching spaces had to be versatile enough to accommodate a variety of teaching delivery modes, learning styles and information formats, including the extensive use of audio-visual and video-conferencing technologies. The overall plan arrangement had to allow for the flexibility to accommodate changing future needs within an economical structural framework, while providing a clearly legible spatial arrangement and maximising opportunities for student interaction and sharing of ideas. The precast concrete structural frame complements the simple honesty of materials used in the building envelope. This adds clarity when reading the way the components of concrete, glazing, aluminium cladding and steel are assembled to form the building fabric. Energy efficient systems for lighting, ventilation and air-conditioning have also been integrated unobtrusively, together with the security and communications systems required to support the extensive information technology networks used in a modern campus environment. The building services are controlled via the building management system to ensure optimum occupant comfort and efficient performance of building services. The landscaping strategy utilises a drought-resistant palette that blends with the existing native flora of Coolangatta Creek with predominant low growing ground covers and shade trees, providing a soft complement to the concrete, glass and steel used in the building exterior whilst also creating sheltered outdoor spaces for informal learning. In the early stages of design, the client decided to forego the conventional “sandstone” university image in preference for a pragmatic and “real-world” approach to campus design which has been translated into the design expression and choice of materials. Building materials were selected on their durability, ease of maintenance, performance characteristics, environmental impact and aesthetic qualities. Life cycle costing of building components was used to assess the most cost effective material and component selections. The pre-dominant use of naturally-finished precast concrete expressed in the colonnade of blade columns on the exterior imparts the necessary gravitas of an educational institution. In contrast, selective aluminium-clad features in bold colours, splashes of colour and graphics in the interior add an element of fun and vibrancy. The average construction cost achieved in the completed building falls within the lower range of the industry average for tertiary education buildings. ESD principles are integrated into all aspects of the design with the building being eligible for a minimum rating equivalent to 4-star Greenstar, although the client has elected not to proceed with the full certification process. The basic ‘U’ plan-form creates opportunities to maximise natural day-lighting cross ventilation of spaces and external views while the semi-covered atrium courtyard aids the cooling of the building envelope with induced convectional air movements through heat vents located in the soffit. Generous roof eaves shade the external walls from direct solar heat gain, in conjunction with various sun-shading devices incorporated into the design of the building envelope. Other sustainability initiatives that are incorporated into the building also include energy efficient building systems, transport design / planning, rainwater collection, xeriscape planting, utilisation of sustainable materials/ technologies, provision of cyclist and end-of-trip facilities. The design of the foundation building was an outcome of input from a range of stakeholders including academic staff, Teaching and Learning Centre, Learning Assistance, Information Technology and Technical Support, Library and Facilities Management. It aims to establish the main principles for future buildings that will collectively form an on-campus environment which actively engages students in the process of learning and exchange of information through the creation of dynamic spaces and facilities that encourage open collaborative interaction.