Pridham Hall, University of South Australia, Australia

Aurecon engineers a new heart for UniSA’s city west campus

Aurecon, in partnership with the University of South Australia (UniSA) and Principle Consultant JPE Design Studio, together with Snøhetta and Jam Factory, embarked on a project that has transformed life for the UniSA City West campus.

Pridham Hall provides purpose-built facilities for students to celebrate university life, milestones, and achievements, within the iconic new building. It forms the centrepiece and connects the heart of the university precinct. The AUD $50 million project reflects the university’s brief for a premium offering to the students and staff alike and was delivered for the opening graduations for 2018.

The facility is required to quickly convert between sports, graduations and other events. Beneath the main hall is a 25 m swimming pool, gymnasium and associated facilities that provide university students and staff with much needed leisure facilities to support their learning.

Aurecon's engineering supported the architectural intent of Pridham Hall to form an expressive design and create a public drawcard as the heart of the campus. The building integrates stunning angles, and brings the landscaping from street level through the elevations to the roof, forming a dramatic living and breathing facade.

The building debuted in 2018 as the first of 4 000 graduates crossed the stage for the university’s April graduations.

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor, David Lloyd, said it was fantastic to see an ambition realised.

“We are extremely grateful for all the support we have had on this project, from the architects, designers, builders and project managers, and from all of the people who have generously supported its construction.

“Our students really wanted sporting facilities on campus, but they also wanted to have a significant venue where they could graduate and create enduring memories of their time at UniSA,” said Prof Lloyd.

Engineering the heart of the campus

Through this project, Aurecon helped UniSA and the architects to ’compress‘ the building, by creating highly flexible spaces that are required to be reconfigurable in multiple formats.

From this, the ’chameleon‘ solution emerged for Pridham Hall – required to change its function and uses according to need and demand. The main hall converts from a basketball, netball and indoor rock climbing venue, to facilitating corporate dinners and major events such as the celebratory graduation experiences for the students.

Pridham Hall is situated in the West End of Adelaide, central to the UniSA city west campus.  Because space was precious, Aurecon’s challenge was to situate the building to all four boundaries using clever retention and basement design to maximise the building volume while minimising the construction cost and programme. The pool is located in the basement, cleverly attracting natural light beneath the building’s green wings, and retaining a connection with the public spaces.

Flexible indoor/outdoor space

The main hall is a column-free space approximately 40 m x 40 m, with elegant roof trusses facilitating the clear space, and supporting the slim lines demanded by the architectural vision. Three design firms were involved: JPE Design Studio, the oldest architectural firm in Adelaide, in collaboration with Snøhetta, the internationally-renowned architectural partner; and local arts and crafts institution, Jam Factory.

Aurecon worked in close partnership with the architects to influence and facilitate the bold architectural form internally and externally, creating complex geometry and design.

The roof is designed with multi-mode overlays enabling flexible audio visual and operable elements, enabling the space to be divided and fitted for a wide range of uses with all components easy to operate, and store when not in use.

Greening the space

Innovative design was demanded of the team, to create a greener and more inviting natural space within the constrained site. The angled green wings that form planes across the north and west elevations of the building blend seamlessly at ground levels, and invite the public up the natural timber terraces onto the building.

The provision of elevated garden beds on suspended structures add a grand focal point and a practical solution to supporting the green wings. They also provides a waterproof solution over the pool area.

Pridham Hall facts

Key statistics for the project include:

  • 7 400 m2 gross floor area
  • 3 500 m3 of concrete
  • 400 t of structural steel
  • 60 solar panels providing 80 kW
  • More than 30 000 jobs were created during the project 

“Aurecon was an integral part of a multi-disciplinary team that delivered a unique and striking building. The first graduations were a great success and we look forward to creating many more enduring memories with our students.” said Robert Lustri, Capital Projects Director, Facilities Management Unit, UniSA.

The success of Pridham Hall is attributed to the supportive partnerships of all organisations involved, including: 

  • Client – UniSA
  • Architects – JPE Design Studio + Snøhetta + Jam Factory
  • Cost Manager – Rider Levett Bucknall
  • Building Services Engineer – WSP 
  • Managing Contractor – Mossop Construction and Interiors

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