UQ Advanced Engineering Building by Richard Kirk Architect Hassell Joint Venture
Interior Architecture: Emil Sodersten Award
Australian Institute of Architects
The UQ Advanced Engineering Building has a highly complex program, yet its skilful internal planning and well-resolved circulation achieve a great sense of order, openness and transparency. In both plan and section, three volumes feed off a central “street.” Processes, laboratories and equipment are made visible to students, staff and visitors alike. The central street runs the length of the building, with research facilities, teaching and learning spaces, laboratories, workshops, offices and support facilities positioned around it. The large foyer at one end of the building is used to showcase engineering products, stimulating interest in manufacturing processes and the use of advanced materials. At the other end, the plan terminates in a spectacular 500-seat auditorium, with glazed walls looking out towards the Brisbane River. The auditorium roof is supported by a series of exposed timber roof trusses, the radiating geometry of which generates a folded roof form that is expressed inside and out.
The interior has a restrained yet rich material palette, which is derived from the sensitive use of local Queensland timbers – central to the project’s sustainability initiatives. The use of local timber also connects the interior to the outside spaces, providing a clear sense of orientation within the building. Although the building is large, it is never overwhelming – the clear expression of the structure adds a directness and simplicity to the spaces within. Although it is an institutional building, the material palette has a softness more usually associated with residential architecture, such as the terracotta external screening and the abundance of timber cladding. The same thoughtfulness extends to furniture and fittings, many of which have been purpose-designed for the project.
Clear planning, flexible spaces and laboratories that allow for innovative teaching contribute to the success of this project. The whole building and its interiors are beautifully resolved and are a delight to experience and to occupy.
Read the project review by Haig Beck and Jackie Cooper from Architecture Australia.