2019 National Architecture Awards: National Award for Interior Architecture

The University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute by Swanbury Penglase with BVN.

Jury citation

The University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute interiors are both refined and restrained, working to strengthen a clear architectural parti and distinguishing between work spaces, meeting places and circulation areas.

A beautiful building section organizes research communities vertically, with meeting spaces, social spaces and terraces surrounding a northern atrium. Despite being centred around highly controlled work environments (laboratories), this building program enables remarkable workplace flexibility, openness and interaction, supporting the institute as a genuinely contemporary research hub.

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Impressive in a building of this scale and typology, the presence of natural light is felt throughout the interior, from the public areas to the lift lobbies and meeting spaces. Even within the work areas, the careful design enables every workspace to sense a connection to daylight.

The material palette is consistent – natural timber, concrete, dark-coloured floors, dark-painted steel – with subtle shifts between zones according to use. Light-filled white laboratory spaces and completely blackened public exhibition spaces are the exceptions. A discreet use of mirror, colour and brass reveals a skilled sensibility. The high quality and consistency of approach to detailing throughout this large building is particularly noteworthy.

The University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute is located in Adelaide, South Australia and is built on the land of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains.


Swanbury Penglase
Adelaide, SA, Australia
Project Team
Swanbury Penglase project team: Andrew Phillips, Wayne Grivell (project directors), Jason Timberlake (project architect), Joshua Budarick, Marty Frost, Matthew Raven, Paul Rawinski, Peter Morris (architects), Ted Bourchier (graduate of architecture), Elizabeth Swanbury (interior design director), Jasmine Brooksby, Matthew James, Rebecca McMillan (interior designers), Cecilia Tang (landscape architect), BVN project team: Abbie Galvin, Julian Ashton (principal architects), Peter Titmuss (project director), Geoff Cooke (site architect), Conor Larkins, Craig Burns (design architects), Jan Christel (BIM manager), Dinah Zhang, Felix Saw, Max Hu (graduates of architecture), Adriana Haindl, Amelia Lipa, Jess Cochrane, Kate O’Mullane, Saskia Arief (interior designers), Barry Cantor (model maker) , Barry Dineen (visualization)
Builder Hansen Yuncken
Cost manager Rider Levett Bucknall
DDA Consultant Disability Consulting Services
ESD consultant Cundall
Facade engineer Arup
Fire brigade South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service
Gallery Consultant Freeman Ryan Design
Laboratory and animal house specialist Jeff Freeman and Associates
Land surveyor Fyfe
Landscape architect Swanbury Penglase
Lifts consultant KBR
Services engineer KBR with Arup
Statutory planners URPS
Structural and civil engineer Wallbridge Gilbert Aztec (WGA)
Waste management consultant Rawtec
Wind consultant Vipac Engineers and Scientists
Site details
Category Commercial / public buildings
Type Health, Universities / colleges
Project Details
Status Built



Published online: 7 Nov 2019
Words: 2019 National Awards Jury
Images: Peter Barnes


Architecture Australia, November 2019

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