WAN Jobs
News Review
WAN Urban Challenge
WAN Awards
Previous Next

Business School at the University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

Tuesday 04 Jan 2011

New business school transforms university

Business School at the University of Western Australia by Woods Bagot in Perth, Australia
Business School at the University of Western Australia by Woods Bagot in Perth, Australia Business School at the University of Western Australia by Woods Bagot in Perth, Australia Business School at the University of Western Australia by Woods Bagot in Perth, Australia Business School at the University of Western Australia by Woods Bagot in Perth, Australia
Your comments on this project

No. of Comments: 0

Add comments | More comments

Be the first to comment

World class business school provides a single location for various faculties previously housed in several buildings 

"Closer integration between various parts of our faculty mean that we are now presenting a more coherent view of business education at UWA that will enable us to present a unified face to the business community. Our new building will provide a major, visible symbol of change and future development," Professor Tracey Horton, Dean of the Business School.

"The UWA Business School fundraising campaign, 'Tomorrow Starts Here', was implemented to raise significant funds to transform the Business School. The funds contributed to a new state-of-the-art building that has enabled a new experiential style of learning, co-locating undergraduate, postgraduate and executive training," Professor Tracey Horton, Dean of the Business School.

"The completion of the outstanding new building will provide many opportunities for Business School students and graduates in the years ahead," Mark Barnaba, Chair of the Business School Board.

"The University has placed significant investment in a state-of-the-art Business School facility, providing you with an inspirational environment in which to study," Business School Website.

"Designed for learning - studying at the Business School you will have access to state-of-the-art facilities, lecture theatres and study rooms. You will experience a collaborative learning environment bringing together students, staff, alumni and the business community. The building design incorporates flexible learning sites and lounges throughout the building, providing you with plenty of spaces to work and learn," Business School Website.

"This award is to a creative and highly disciplined consultant team who have brought UWA campus architecture into the 21st Century. While acknowledging the campus grid, the building then takes on a life of its own. Being slightly elevated to capture river views, it provides a well thought out learning environment that is at once inspiring and potentially very sustainable," Jury Comments AIA Design Award for Public Architecture Western Australia 2009.

The briefing process for the UWA began with an introductory meeting to provide Woods Bagot with an understanding of the University's vision for the Business School.

Following this initial meeting, Woods Bagot facilitated two ‘Strategic Vision Workshops' with selected academic staff, administrative staff and student participants. The workshops gave rise to key outcomes which were used by the design team as the basis for an overall philosophy to underpin the building design.

In addition to the vision workshops, ‘one-on-one' interviews were held with selected academic staff, administrative staff and students to test the outcomes of the vision workshop and to provide the basis for the School's accommodation schedule and the project room data sheets.

The provisional accommodation schedule was tested by a specialist consultant to enable greater efficiencies in building utilisation to enable ‘non-briefed' spaces to be incorporated into the design without an increase in the overall building area.

Design presentations were made by Woods Bagot to the Project Design Group on a fortnightly cycle and the Project Steering Group on a monthly cycle as the briefing and design phases progressed.


The Business School building features a new academic workplace configuration designed to increase interaction between academics, their PhD students and support staff. The building also provides a collaborative learning environment bringing together students, staff, alumni and the business community. By providing a range of formal and informal learning facilities in an open and attractive environment, the Business School has become a social hub at the southern end of the campus, attracting students and staff from other faculties and other parts of the University. This has resulted in the return of the collegiate environment which had been lost due to the previous fragmentation of the School. Woods Bagot undertook a rigorous consultative approach throughout the design process which resulted in opportunities for innovation and added value. Rigorous education-specific space auditing combined with the consultative process resulted in a 10% saving in space from the original brief. These savings were reinvested in a number of ways, such as the creation of a new collaborative and collegiate workplace model for academics and new learning environments such as collaborative social and breakout spaces. The design philosophy for the Business School evolved out of the concept of grouping student functions at the centre of the building around a three storey central gathering and organising space. Students are encouraged to use stairs to access these facilities and there is a high level of transparency within the space to aid way-finding and orientation.


Key functions such as the case study rooms and the board room are housed in ‘knowledge vessels’ which comprise cylindrical elements placed as a counterpoint to the rectilinear form of the building. These elements have been treated as strong sculptural forms exploring a variety of cladding materials. Informal meeting spaces and lounges are distributed throughout the building to facilitate group work, casual encounters and quiet reflection. These take a number of forms, from a 150-seat cafe to outdoor courtyard areas, student commons and informal seating areas around the central atrium at each level. The building comprises three levels of accommodation with teaching/learning areas and academic offices occurring at each level. Academic offices are designed as ‘clusters’ featuring individual offices and open plan work areas together with meeting rooms and casual meeting areas within a secure environment. The building floor plates were developed to provide long-term flexibility (no internal columns to office spaces), optimised natural light (maximising north/south facing glazing, internal courtyards), outlook (the building has views of the nearby Swan River) and legibility (rational rectilinear plan).


The Business School delivers undergraduate, postgraduate and higher degree research programmes and is active in business research. The School is recognised internationally for attracting the best students and staff, delivering high quality, industry-relevant programmes and for having strong links with the business community. The Business School Faculty comprises approximately 103 academic staff and 40 professional staff. 82% of the academic staff hold a PhD or equivalent degree. There are 5,300 students enrolled in the School: 72% undergraduate; 25% postgraduate and 3% higher degree research. The Business School ensures that its postgraduate programmes are relevant and valuable to the business community. Postgraduate programmes include the Master of Business Administration, Master of Commerce and Master of Professional Accounting. The Business School also offers traditional programmes in marketing, human resource management and employment relations, economics, business information management, accounting and finance. Established in 1973 the UWA Business School MBA is the oldest in Western Australia. It has produced over 3,000 management graduates, many of whom now hold leadership positions in Australia and internationally. The MBA has a five-star rating for graduate salaries, getting a job, corporate links and management faculty size and is ranked first in Western Australia and fifth in Australia. The Business School offers higher degrees by research, through the Masters by Research programmes such as the Doctor of Business Administration and Doctor of Philosophy. These programmes enhance research skills and develop independent and critical thinking so students can contribute to state-of-the-art knowledge through research in their chosen fields. The Business School is committed to building value-adding partnerships with organisations wishing to contribute to the delivery of world-class education, providing scholarships and professional development opportunities across Australia and internationally. The UWA Business School Fundraising Campaign was one of the few and thus amongst the most successful campaigns by Australian standards, in the tertiary education sector, raising $25 million. By enabling the bringing together of the various disparate parts of the Business School, the new building has become the catalyst for the School to attract students and staff and to produce graduates who will make strong contributions to the local, as well as the wider, community.


Early planning decisions gave careful consideration to the following key issues: Orientation: the majority of glazing faces north or south with east and west facing glazing minimised and generally to circulation spaces. Glazed areas are protected by sun-shading designed to suit the orientation of the glazing it protects. Thermal: solar buffers and shading are provided to accommodate peak summer heat gain and winter heat loss. The eastern and western service core elements act as thermal buffers to morning and afternoon summer sun. North-facing glazing is protected by horizontal sun-louvres to ensure that direct solar loads are excluded from spring to autumn. South-facing glazing is protected by vertical sun-breaks to eliminate direct solar loads from early morning and late afternoon summer sun. Daylight: adequate glazing is provided at the right locations to reduce the usage of artificial lighting during daylight hours. The floor plates were developed to ensure that building occupants are located within an appropriate distance from an external window. Sunshades protect vision panels from direct sun and blinds are provided to all occupied areas to control glare. Fabric: the building fabric is well insulated and air-tight to ensure high performance. The building façade was developed in conjunction with the mechanical services engineer and the ESD consultant using floor plate modelling. The façade is insulated and protected by solar shading devices according to façade orientation. Windows are double-glazed or low E glass with a shading coefficient of 0.65. Off-site: materials produced off-site include pre-cast concrete, terracotta cladding panels, metal cladding panels, window units and sun-shading systems. Chilled beam technology: chilled beams were utilised as an appropriate low-energy air-conditioning system for the building. Chilled beams are a low energy, healthy method of air-conditioning buildings. Indoor environment quality: this includes providing optimum levels of natural light; providing internal blinds for daylight glare control; providing more fresh air than required by Australian standards; ensuring appropriate levels of acoustic separation and attenuation; the use of low VOC paints, sealants, adhesives, carpets and the use of high frequency ballasts on all light fittings. Water efficiency: this includes the use of water efficient fittings to showers, toilets and taps; waterless urinals; the installation of water meters to all major uses on site; the elimination of water-based heat rejection systems and a closed loop system for fire system testing. Sustainable materials: this includes minimising the use of PVC by selecting alternative products; the use of fully certified timber products; the use of recycled flooring materials and ensuring that all joinery was modular and designed for disassembly.


The new facility provides a single location for various business faculties formerly housed in several buildings on and off the Crawley Campus and includes formal and informal IT-enabled learning environments that support project-based learning and encourage collaboration. The provision of a cafe, service centres, case study rooms, syndicate rooms and lecture theatres enable a seamless process of learning and extended hours of activity. Since its opening, the School has experienced unprecedented numbers of students occupying the building and making use of its facilities. This has given the building a strong sense of vitality and life and contributes to the Business School as both a physical and academic destination for staff and students alike. The provision of ‘academic clusters’ has contributed to the revival of the collegiality lost by the fragmentation of the School into several buildings on and off the Crawley Campus. These arrangements have provided the vehicle for better engagement between academic staff, professional staff and PhD students. Specialist facilities have been provided for postgraduate programmes, including the Master of Business Administration, Master of Commerce and Master of Professional Accounting. These programs occur after-hours and on weekends and include the provision of high quality food and beverage catered for by the adjacent cafe which opens onto an outdoor courtyard. The high quality facilities provided within the building also enhance the opportunities for the engagement of the wider business community in line with the School’s aspirations to deliver high quality, industry-relevant programmes.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 27.2(m€)
Woods Bagot

More projects by this architect

The Amberly

Queensland Government HQ

San Francisco International Airport - New Terminal 1

Hongqi Zhen Sugar Factory Town Master Plan

Mixed use tower

More Projects

Reinventing Cities

Click here to view the NEWS IN PICTURES tablet site