Inspired by the idea of a treehouse, the building was designed by architect Frank Gehry as “a growing learning organism with many branches of thought, some robust and some ephemeral and delicate”. Gehry was determined to not only create a new Sydney landmark but internal spaces that inspire real and relevant research and learning outcomes, interdisciplinary collaboration and the cross-pollinationof ideas.
Undulating brickwork and glass-panelled: ‘curtain wall’
Achieving the fluid appearance of the brickwork proved a technical feat that involved corbelling (stepping) individual bricks to articulate the building’s organic shape. The lightcoloured bricks – around 320,000 in total – were custom made for the building and reference Sydney’s sandstone heritage, while a vast glass ‘curtain wall’ reflects the building’s contemporary context.
To encourage interaction, the building makes prominent use of stairways to move people around the building. The most striking of these is a polished stainless steel staircase, which lends a sculptural focal point to the main lobby and reflects the movement of both people and ideas. The stair was manufactured by Queensland-based Urban Art Projects, shipped from China to Sydney in parts and assembled on site. Another eye-catching feature is a stairway made of Victorian ash, which wraps around an oval classroom on level 3, linking it to the student lounge on the floor above.
Two oval classrooms have been constructed from around 150 large laminated timber beams, each weighing up to two tonnes and the longest measuring 12 metres. Originating in New Zealand, the glue-laminated (glulam) radiata pine beams create a sculptural form within the ground-floor atrium void. The classrooms feature the world’s longest timberconcrete composite floor construction and the first in Australia. The oval form classrooms provide an intimate environment with 360° engagement, encouraging dialogue between all.
Lighting is a key feature throughout the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building. Acrylic cloud-shaped lights are prominent on the lower public levels of the building, notably above the level 2 café counter and in the student lounge on level 3. On the upper levels, the cloud lighting takes on a papery texture and creates a striking point of interest in the staff kitchen on level 8 and in the Dean’s boardroom on level 12.
KEY FEATURES: Teaching, learning, research
While available to all students, the new UTS Business School focuses on postgraduate and executive education, as well as bringing researchers together.
Importantly, the new suite of custom-designed spaces provides an opportunity to shape the future of teaching and learning. Known as learning.futures, the UTS approach to teaching and learning is being imaginatively reengineered to reflect how students learn and to support a relevant and engaging experience that prepares graduates for a fastchanging global workplace. Business School students will experience high quality face-to-face teaching in technologyenabled spaces that encourage collaboration, practice-based learning and group-work.
The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building was the first UTS building to be awarded a 5 Star Green Star Design rating certified by the Green Building Council of Australia. Sustainability has been considered throughout the building in the choice of construction materials, interior furnishings, sustainable timber and energy-efficient air-conditioning.
A 20,000-litre tank on the roof harvests rainwater for use in toilets and for irrigation, reducing potable water use. Fire system test water is also collected and recycled.
In the basement, 160 bicycle parking spaces, lockers, changing areas and showers are provided to encourage students and staff to cycle to class and work.
The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building is set to become a high-tech research and education centre, and an important venue for business events. Its location puts it at the heart of Sydney’s growing ‘digital creative hub’, where a partnership known as Intersection is connecting creative and digital start-ups with cultural, media, commercial, government and educational organisations. The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building will also be a landmark along Sydney City’s ‘cultural ribbon’, which runs from the Opera House to the southern end of the city through Darling Harbour. The building’s entrance from The Goods Line, currently being redeveloped as a new urban space, will also enhance its connections with the southern CBD.