In a strategic move to consolidate its facilities across nine buildings on the Camperdown/Darlington campuses, Woods Bagot designed the flagship home for the new University of Sydney Business School. Catering to over 6,000 students, the project includes three 550-seat lecture theatres, eight 100-seat study rooms, 40 seminar rooms, a learning hub and 1,500 sqm of informal learning space.
One of the main objectives of the Business School was to reshape the conventional higher education triptych of teaching, learning and research. Drawing on this goal, the vision for the project was to create a 21st century learning environment that fosters productive interactions with the business community while responding to the needs of students.
The functional floor plates provide a spectrum of learning environments positioned around a centrally-located social spine, encouraging collaboration and visual accessibility. Providing transparency and a sense of dynamism from the street to informal learning environments, the building is activated via the use of exposed stairs which link the various floors.
The design offers an architectural solution in the form of a series of boxes clustered around social, collaborative, ‘sticky’ spaces. The clustered buildings interconnect with canopies and atrium spaces to provide a diversity of spaces for teaching and learning. The ‘social glue’ spaces provide transparency from the street to the informal internal learning environments and external learning spaces. Stair linkages aid in activating the building promoting pedestrian movement between floors.
The architectural vernacular and fine grain of the building draws inspiration from the historic and textural character of the neighbouring terraces and university quadrangle. The exterior skin draws inspiration from the historic and textural character of the neighbouring Darlington terraces and the university quad. The double-skin façade system is intelligently designed to react to both the interior and exterior building adjacencies, with density and rotation of blades responding to desirable sightlines, privacy concerns and daylight penetration to study areas. In a contemporary reinterpretation of historic local sandstone, the stratification of terracotta baguettes integrates the architecture firmly within the campus aesthetic.
The building celebrates the presence of the existing Sydney Blue Gum on the site by establishing the hardwood tree as a central feature around which the building wraps. This strong entry statement also acts as a bold visual and physical link reaching out to the community and main campus. Secondary entries throughout the site provide permeability to the campus and amenities.
Set back 11m from the property line, the design retained significant native trees creating a sense of ‘buildings in the park’. An integrated landscape concept was devised to supplement and connect the spectrum of learning and social spaces created by the architecture, incorporating ecological sustainable development and water-conscious landscaping. The spatial and material resolution of the landscape design maximises accessibility and ease of movement while contributing positively to public domain.
Presenting a new iteration of a university community, the design has facilitated a creative, collegial and collaborative learning and research environment for the next generation of global business leaders.