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Aurecon involved in faculty building lauded for achieving multiple ‘green’ firsts

Melbourne School of Design

The recently opened Melbourne School of Design

18 December 2014 - Aurecon was appointed as Project Manager by The University of Melbourne in 2009 on the AUD129 million totally new Melbourne School of Design building (MSD) for the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, and has also contributed geotechnical, building services, facade and land surveying expertise from concept through to completion.

The Melbourne School of Design is set to become one of the most renowned sustainable tertiary institution buildings. Not only has the building been awarded a prestigious 6-Star Green Star–Education Design V1 rating by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), but it also received an impressive 10 Innovation Points for incorporating rewarding applications, technologies and approaches which are not commonly used in building design.

The MSD is the largest of only twelve buildings in Australia to receive the industry lauded 6-Star rating and it is the only building to merit all ten innovation points possible during evaluation. What’s more, the building was delivered four months ahead of schedule for beneficial use in September 2014.

The new 17 000 m² building is state-of-the-art and includes technologically advanced and highly flexible studios, auditoria, lecture theatres, exhibition spaces, administrative and research work areas, as well as a library.

Aurecon Project Leader Gary Bourne commented that achieving a 6-Star Green Star rating was a remarkable result. Not only does the new building mark the first 6-Star rated building for the University, but it is also a significant achievement considering that most of the buildings awarded 6-Star Green Star ratings include natural gas fuelled co-generation or tri-generation, large scale renewables or black water recycling systems to meet the larger point allowance when compared with other green buildings.

“The 6-Star Green Star rating reaffirms the design efficiencies that the building incorporates, as well as the sustainable projects that the University is undertaking on a wider, precinct scale. The new building will have lower operating costs, increased user satisfaction and be a showcase for green architecture in Melbourne,” comments Bourne.

Melbourne School of DesignIncorporating cultural heritage into state-of-the-art architecture

In collaboration with Brookfield Multiplex, local firm John Wardle Architects, and Boston-based firm, NADAAA, Aurecon rose to the brief which challenged the team to deliver a living, pedagogical building exemplifying sustainable design and ’transformative teaching’.

One of the requirements was to retain and incorporate the historic Joseph Reed sandstone facade into the western facade of the new building. “While this posed a number of design and logistics challenges, the result is beautiful and it was key to the project achieving one of the innovation points for cultural heritage,” explains Bourne.

The pedagogy outlined in the initial project brief also presented a few obstacles in terms of finding the right balance of exposed and hidden services, while the building’s ceiling areas were created using a wide variety of building materials, including open areas, perforated sections and transparent ceiling materials, as well as solid materials.

“Given the visibility of the services, it was critical that they were highly coordinated in order to provide an aesthetically pleasing result,” says Bourne.

Major infrastructure relocations and new demolitions on site

An independent demolition stage and the relocation of major campus infrastructure that ran throughout the project site was decided at a late stage in the project.

The University’s ICT infrastructure was originally located throughout the new building’s site, so the project team was tasked with keeping the entire University’s ICT infrastructure up and running while this major relocation occurred. The goal of the demolition and relocation projects was to accelerate the completion of the project while simultaneously minimise costs.

“Aurecon recommended various modular design solutions in order to help achieve the project goals. We are proud to say that the critical ICT infrastructure was running throughout all phases of the project and that the building was completed three months early due to the inclusion of the relocation stage,” adds Bourne.

Melbourne School of DesignIntegrated green building solutions for the right price

Working with a realistic budget, while still trying to achieve additional, sustainable solutions, meant the project team had to keep their thinking caps on and continuously evaluate new proposals and the viability of additional projects.

Aurecon proposed several possible campus-wide solutions, such as including a central location for storm water storage at the new Faculty. Geothermal, co-generation and tri-generation projects as well as LED Lighting were all project facets that Aurecon applied in-depth research and consultation to.

“The integration of an existing site-wide boiler plant was eventually implemented and this was key in delivering the enhanced outcomes. The University also wanted to incorporate LED lighting within the project and Aurecon worked closely with the University to continually review the viability of this project addition.

We reached a point where we believed that LED’s were viable, so we were able to incorporate this into the final design,” adds Bourne.

Another notable feature of the new building is the fire engineering. An open atrium was created, which formed part of the natural ventilation return air scheme. Lightweight walkways and bridges across the atrium also form part of the evacuation route.

“The bridges were designed to be non-fire rated lightweight structures that deflect instead of collapse in the event of a major fire,” says Bourne.

The open plan clustered workspace also includes a hanging studio with atrium. Extensive vertical timber surfaces, as well as the timber trusses to support the atrium roof, were used and this hanging studio was treated as a separate floor area within the main academic space. The entire area therefore achieves excellent daylight and natural ventilation.

The University of Melbourne has sent Aurecon a letter of thanks and acknowledgement for their involvement in the project.

Aurecon’s ability to give honest, practical and expert advice on sustainable green building practices, as well as the presentation that Aurecon gave the architecture students following the building’s completion, were two of the points of thanks mentioned in the letter.

“The Master of Architecture students received a presentation on the outcomes of the project in order to show them the type of collaboration and planning that is involved in creating a building of this stature.

This, coupled with Aurecon’s ability and willingness to incorporate client requests and pursue groundbreaking design and building solutions, has helped the University of Melbourne achieve international acknowledgement and green building ratings,” concludes Bourne.

All project images courtesy of The University of Melbourne, Melbourne School of Design Building, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.


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