Flexible education facility boldly carries engineering research into the future and into the street
The Advanced Technologies Centre , completed in 2011, represents Swinburne University of Technology’s commitment to improving lives through research and education. A practical and flexible facility, designed to accommodate future changes in education, the ATC has developed an iconic status locally. Complex brief requirements were rationalised by creating two functional groups, divided between twin towers: one accommodating ‘smart’ highly-engineered laboratories for service intensive research and the other simple, yet flexible, office and learning spaces.
The ground floor is activated by cruciform triple-height atrium arcades, enabling navigation and moments of intimacy. The circular-patterned precast-concrete skin to upper levels contrasts with the transparent ground floor (containing the world’s first fully-glazed circular auditorium, with flexible retractable seating), allowing views into the typically concealed inner-workings of the University. Outside, splayed north-facing terraced seating creates a sun-soaked space for students to congregate.
This is the first project to achieve Five Stars using the Green Building Council of Australia’s GreenStar Education tool. Sustainability initiatives include natural venting, daylighting, recycled and low-energy materials. The centre is home to numerous specialist research departments, including the Brain Sciences Institute, Nanomaterials and Microfabrication facilities, and represents a major advance in SUT’s research and training capacity.
The Smart Structures Laboratory is fully exposed to public view at ground floor. Its capabilities, including earthquake simulation and materials testing, will deliver social benefits through development of safer, more efficient structures in the housing, infrastructure and resource sectors: lowering costs and environmental impact.
The facility reflects the University’s push to further engage with government and industry bodies, at the same time opening up the traditionally-internalised academic world to the public. This shift is expressed in built form by exposing and making accessible (visually or directly) circulation, foyer and key research spaces, bringing about a compelling engagement between the interior and the public realm.