Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Sydney University of Technology has engaged fjmtstudio to create a new campus building next to its existing premises, wrapped in a glass structure, to house the bulk of the student-focused social areas, including a space of learning, the new UTS library, universities reading room, collaborative classrooms, general education spaces and student service center.
The architects developed a sinuous architectural form and a bold interpretation of UTS’s values and vision.
UTS Central recently received a 2022 International Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Center for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
The lower levels consist of a dramatic podium, overlooking Broadway to the south and Alumni Green to the north.
fjmtstudio’s decision to wrap the building entirely in glass can be extended to Die Glaserne Kette (The Glass Chain), a series of letters written by members of a secret group founded by Bruno Taut in 1920 (there a century ago, to be exact) in collaboration with eminent architects including Walter Gropius.
Clad in glass, the central tower resembles a solid diamond – perhaps in the spirit of Erich Mendelsohn’s Einstein Tower, a compelling analogy thanks to the special techniques now available for double glazing, the aesthetics of which go beyond transparencies painterly associated with the modernist use of large glazing.
Nor is the design expressionistic, despite evidence that some recent work by FJMT tends towards a formal exploration that could demonstrate the influence of digital design techniques.
The twisting and rising tower of UTS Central is edited with reference to the regulating lines of the frontal urban street and the UTS campus, while the geometry and cuts of the highly detailed and functional louvered shading system of the facade of the reading room are inspired by the dialectic of organic and mechanical existing in nature.
Meanwhile, the upper levels take on the form of a tower that twists and turns as it rises, in response to the surrounding geometries of the building and site.
The new building represents a unique character to UTS, and respects and responds to the urban context of the existing campus infrastructure and Broadway streetscape.
The rotation and retreat of Building 2’s form preserves the prominence and integrity of the adjacent UTS Tower, while the veiled delicacy of Building 2’s facade serves as a juxtaposition to the existing Brutalist form.
The podium refers to the immediate streets of the city (Broadway) and the main green space on campus (Alumni Green).
Positioned above the podium, the tower responds to both geometries, rotating at each level and decreasing in size as it rises.
Within this vertical campus, students and the public can connect between Alumni Green and Broadway, both visually and physically.
This creates a highly activated and permeable, welcoming building that embraces density and creates a true urban campus.
The reading room’s triple-height atrium is topped by a large skylight while the glass facade maximizes light and uses operable louvers for shading.
The spiral staircase is one of the characteristics of UTS Central.
This spiral design will connect the student floors, landing on opposite sides at levels four and seven.
The spiral staircase is a tribute to the DNA sequence and to major advances in science and technology.
Prefabricated offsite and installed by Active Metal.
Project: UTS Center
Design team: Richard Francis-Jones, James Perry, Elizabeth Carpenter, Daniel Karamaneas, Aliaksei Sakalouski, Gema Edo, Borja Pedrosa, John Perry, Cassandra Halpin-Smyth, Pei-Lin Cheah, Anna Szymanska, Michael Woodward, Brooke Matthews, Alessandro Rossi, Sean Pettet, Owen Sharp, Noel Yaxley, Cassandra Cutler and Diana Rivero, Interiors team: Lina Sjögren, Mariska Margaret Metchev, Prayrika Mathur, Miyo Stanton, Lauren Saull, Bianca Laurence, Landscape team: Phoebe Pape, Richard Tripolone, Maria Martinez , and Francesca Cazzetta
General Contractor: Richard Crookes Constructions Pty Limited
Client: Sydney University of Technology
Photographers: Andy Roberts and Tyrone Branigan