Swinburne University of Technology's Advanced Technologies Centre (SUT ATC) is the first building in Australia to receive 5 stars under the GreenStar Education rating system - and it has fast become an icon of Melbourne. Designed by H2o Architects, the two midrise towers are clad in a perforated prefab LEGO-like concrete skin, which creates their distinct identity while serving to control solar gain. One tower houses the advanced research labs while the other is more adaptable, containing offices and classrooms. The two towers are fed by adjacent 3-story atriums, which act as the social hubs of the complex.
Much of the design of Swinburne University of Technology‘s Advanced Technologies Centre is about openness, circulation, and adaptability. The lower labs are glassed on all sides so passersby can view the research. The ground floor lab building is mostly occupied by the Smart Structures Laboratory, which researches material sciences for earthquake resistance, efficiency in housing design, and infrastructure technologies. The super-reinforced structure can handle equipment up to 500 tons. Another glass-lined room is the circular multi-use lecture auditorium with 600 retractable seats, which can be adapted for different uses. The entire lower level is fully accessible, and a plethora of glass bridges connect the two buildings.
The ATC’s achievement of 5 Green Stars from the Green Building Council of Australia was made possible by a host of design features – including a climate control system that adjusts beforehand to weather changes. The concrete shell reduces heat gain with its thermal mass and window shades. Recycled materials were used throughout the project, including reclaimed brick from demolished buildings on campus. The openable windows create natural ventilation and automatically turn off the air conditioning. And, perhaps most importantly for a school, the design is adaptable for future uses with an open floor plan that will allow the building to serve the University well into the century.