Wilson Architects in association with John Wardle Architects
The outcome of a competition to design a research facility for the University of Queensland dedicated to understanding the brain. The new building houses a remarkably broad gathering of the scientific community including researchers, associated schools, centres, institutes and commercial bodies.
‘A Theatre for Research’ theme was developed to frame an architectural approach that would encourage the fertile cross pollination of ideas hoped to be an outcome of the inhabited project. To this end, the building exaggerates the visibility of research activity, placing the laboratories on display upon entry. Circulation routes have been elevated from the prosaic to become lively promenades that are attached to informal conversation spaces important for conducting accidental research in a more social environment.
The building form alludes to an archaeological segment from a Roman theatre with its curved edge along the main campus road suggesting a larger circular geometry beyond its own site. Pre-cast concrete panelized façade on this edge protects the interior laboratories from low incident sun – integrated fins shade vertical window slots and create a varying texture along its length.
The uppermost level, with its wide ranging views and access to a covered outdoor courtyard, has been given over to all building occupants by the client, rather than resorting to a traditional symbolism of hierarchy where these spaces would be privatized for senior staff only. As such this floor also incorporates a lecture theatre, seminar rooms, social indoor spaces and an outdoor eating area.
A new artwork ‘Out of Mind’ by Adelaide-based artist Fiona Hall was commissioned by the University of Queensland and comprises a large image graphically laminated into the main glass laboratory wall that interprets the research activity beyond.