Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, Camperdown Campus, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Exemplary design categories: comfort, energy efficiency, flexible learning settings, green school

How the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
As the faculty was moving to a “new home” on campus, there was opportunity to rethink the faculty’s work and teaching environment. It was also an opportunity to redefine and reinterpret the architectural dialectic between city and campus by extending the public domain and create a new opening of the University to the community, parkland and city beyond. It was also important for the facility to reflects the campus’ rich cultural heritage and its important place within the broader Camperdown campus. The development combines workplace, teaching, study, library, research and public domain function.

A major component was to provide contemporary offices and workspaces to accommodate the Faculty. An array of amenities was created from modular flexible individual offices, open plan workplace areas, collaborative and meeting facilities and a central social hub. These social hubs are placed on a large glazed bridge element, and will be the “heart” of the organisation, facilitating informal interaction. The complex and extensive programme was divided into podium and superstructures to allow the creation of a generous public domain of lawns, gardens, terraces and plazas. Within this solid podium is the library and teaching spaces. Suspended above the podium are a series of superstructures that split and splinter the remaining programme into fragments that coalesce at moments of definition of the public domain. The innovative triple layered, cavity façade system provides thermal control through a combination of high performance glass, automated stack effect natural ventilation and automated sun-shading louvers. The system allows individual offices to choose passively tempered natural ventilation, mixed mode air conditioning, the degree of sun penetration, views and natural light and provides acoustic screening of the traffic noise from nearby major roads and between offices.

A curvilinear profiled form of stainless steel announces the presence of the Law Library below as it draws in and reflects natural light. This library light tower ventilates the spaces below, expelling warm stale air and naturally cooling the mass of the building as the evening temperatures drop via a night flushing operation. The sustainable design addressed two key factors that have been proven to positively affect people’s ability to learn and concentrate - daylight and fresh air – by going through the Full Green Star assessment process, and installing mixed-mode environmental control to office areas and social hub areas; displacement air-conditioning to main teaching facilities; and chilled beam and displacement air-conditioning to the library. The design also enhances access to natural light and view and uses sophisticated solar gain and glare control via operable façade; low embodied energy, low voc materials and sustainable timbers used throughout; zoning, sensors, low energy fittings and building services strategies used throughout; bicycle storage and shower facilities provided; and rainwater harvesting for reuse.

Activity Areas: Moot court, Moot Court, Board Room Law, Foyer, Forecourt, Law Lounge, 23 teaching spaces, ranging from 300 and 100 seat lecture theatres, to 60, 56 and 24 seat seminar facilities to suit a wide range of teaching requirements.

Project costs: AUD 85,000,000.00

Source: Submitted to OECD for "Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011" in 2010

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User perspectives (1)

“What a privilege it has been for me as Dean of the Sydney Law School to be part of the move to the Camperdown campus! We have now successfully moved 140 staff and over 3,000 students to our light-filled and beautiful building- all in time for the start of the academic year in 2009. The architects have designed an elegant and spacious structure that cannot fail to inspire our academic staff, administrators and students. A functional and beautiful environment respects those who use the spaces and motivates all who work in the building. The 300 seat auditorium allows us to hold major public lectures, allowing us to bring the law school together. The teaching spaces - four 100 seat lecture theatres and sixteen seminar rooms and numerous other meeting facilities - allow for smaller groups, encouraging greater student participation in analysis and discussion. The world class dispute resolution facilities, including a moot court, mediation break-out rooms and judges chambers, ensure that students have practical experience of the arts of advocacy, persuasion and problem-solving.”
Professor Gillian Triggs, Dean, Sydney Law School, University of Sydney

Images (5)

Drawings (3)

Floor plan, Level 1 (Registration required)
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Credit: Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp
Section (Registration required)
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Credit: Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp
Site plan (Registration required)
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Credit: Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp