A natural progression

Wednesday 30 Jun 2010

Charles Darwin University gets new civic presence with modernist approach to tropical architecture

The Chancellery and Gallery establish a new civic presence for Charles Darwin University (CDU) – one that welcomes students, staff and visitors, and reflects CDU’s commitment to place, excellence in art, culture and education.Through transparency and connection to its natural setting, the building connects the cultural foundation of CDU to the daily cycle of university life and activity

The dualities of CDU and more broadly the Northern Territory of Australia inform the arrangement and composition of the building; vocational studies to tertiary education offered, distinct seasons wet and dry; landscapes dry and tropical; cultures exotic and indigenous.The scale of the exterior and internal public spaces combine with a permeability and democracy of access and movement that establish it as a true public facility. The position of the building on the CDU campus and its’ linear design form a strong edge to the campus that give it a strong civic purpose, and emphasise its’ function as the centre of the campus administration.

The plan of the building is driven by two axes. The first is the central circulation corridor or street serving the building and perpendicular to this is a circulation axis penetrating through the building that on a pedestrian scale connects the car park to the campus, and on an urban scale connects the city to the university. The long east-west axis opens to the east end, connecting the facility via a covered court to an external pedestrian route into the campus and to the adjacent Indonesian garden where university functions are held. This permeability knits the facility into the broader university campus as well as defining an edge and a gateway.

The crossing point of the two circulation axes is a light-filled double-height space serving all building users, providing strong links into the campus and out to the parklands beyond, and emphasising the garden spaces surrounding the building. The program of the building is very legible, with work spaces, meeting rooms and the art gallery positioned along the building’s edge and accessed from the central street or atrium space.

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