Transparency is the theme behind the new gateway for the Swinburne University of Technology (SUT). In a reversal of tradition, the technological endeavours within the Advanced Technologies Centre (ATC) are put on show instead of being hidden away in a back lot. Beyond the ATC are two new towers with their own innovative façades, dotted with a distinctive pattern of port-hole like windows. Fittingly, the building has won recognition for its innovative use of technology. It is also the first education building in the country awarded a five Star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.


Build a cutting edge engineering-focused facility for education and research, designed to be practical and flexible for future changes in education, while enriching and invigorating its occupants and the university.


Precast concrete facades differentiate the building from the high rise glass boxes associated with commercial buildings and flag the building’s non-commercial nature. Circular patternation and the circular glazing of the facade strengthen the building’s appearance and reference the contemporary preference for non-rectilinear geometries, currently researched by the engineering community of the building.

The public ground level is activated by cruciform three level atrium laneways, that reference urban Melbourne laneways, providing ease of navigation and moments of intimacy. In contrast to the upper levels, the ground levels are highly glazed, including the world’s first fully glazed circular retractable seating auditorium, to allow the public domain to have visual connection with the important research and learning operations on the lower level of the building.

The building reverses its representation to the public domain over the day to night cycle. Twin separated ten-level towers hover behind twin three level podium structures, addressing Burwood Road and continuing the existing street scale.
Glazed bridges provide variation to the internal journey and activate the southern and northern facades with occupant movement patterns. Passive solar design results in shade creating circulation balconies to the north and minimised exposure to east or west solar loads. The sitting of the building creates an external space north of the building that is shaded from severe winds and captures the sun, creating a student heart and soul for the campus.

The Burwood Road frontage also includes the largest Strong Structures Laboratory in the southern hemisphere, with a three way fixing and testing facility for deforming and destructive testing of products.

Fire engineers allowed the design of three storey cruciform light courts connected to an eleven storey circulation rise with escalators and an open stair, assisting ease of movement through the building.

Low energy escalators are design for movement through all levels. These have been modelled by studying shopping centres and train stations. The metaphor in mind is that the beginning and end of a lecture is similar to the arrival and departure of a train. The innovative precast concrete façade panels were collaboratively designed and developed with the subcontractor, by researching similar Japanese construction technologies and testing prototypes.

The project was delivered on-time, on-budget, with superior quality, by the architect as principal consultant/superintendent, from a full set of documents issued to a lump sum tender.

The brief resulted in one ‘smart’ highly serviced tower for service intensive research and a ‘dumb’ tower for flexible, simple office and learning accommodation. The space is a major three-dimensional testing facility, developed for large scale testing of civil, mechanical, automotive, railway, aerospace and mining engineering components.

A 1m thick floor below a pair of 5m high walls is penetrated by a grid of holes, for securing the test specimens or providing access for hydraulic actuators and universal testing machines of varying capacities from 10 tonnes to 500 tonnes. The laboratory is serviced by sub floor workshops and a hydraulic pump system.

The Swinburne University Smart Strong Structures Test Laboratory will be of significant benefit to industry and government in developing sustainable and innovative solutions to complex structural systems.


• 2011 Master Builders Award (Vic) $30 – 50m for the Swinburne University Advanced Technologies Centre

• 2011 AIA (Vic) Architecture Award Public Architecture New for the Swinburne University Advanced Technologies Centre

Summary of Achievements

The SUT ATC project also has several engaging design approaches including:

• An iconic and landmark external appearance to generate a new frontage for Swinburne’s Hawthorn Campus
• Creation of an embracing internal environment
• Spatial and service design creating flexibility for an indeterminate future of education
• Preference for innovative self finishing and self cleaning materials, including profiled facade precast concrete cladding
• Facades with high thermal mass for concrete and masonry balanced with low glazing, to reduce thermal loss and gain, while still having sufficient glazing for adequate day lighting and glare balance – also levels internal temperature fluctuation
• High internal thermal mass to stabilise internal temperature fluctuations
• Many double skin brick walls, also provide high thermal mass and good envelope insulation.
• External glare control blinds.
• Extensive reused materials including bricks from buildings on the site and feature timber flooring.
• Courts with skylights cut the internals of the building, providing internal light and air movement
• Natural ventilation for operable windows with sensors linked to the mechanical systems, to delivery spaces including the Lecture Theatre.
• Mixed mode temperature control with an accent on natural venting.
• Top up thermal mass with night purging through the mechanical system.
• Passive design from orientations and shading from trafficable balconies.
• Low energy consumption, high volume usage occupant travel paths, from escalators and easily accessed inter floor stairs.
• Mixed mode lighting facilities with an accent on day-lighting
• A preference for sustainable and Facilities Management assisting materials.
• Additional insulation to all walls, roofs and ceilings.
• Grey water reuse from roof and basement tank storage facilities.
• Energy Modeling to create the built outcome, focus on commissioning / handover and Energy Monitor to improve ongoing performance.
• Peel away construction methods including brick veneer and reverse brick veneer
• Integrated landscape design for no water planting and low maintenance
• Integrated transport plan for safe and easy access incorporating bike racks and small cars
• Utilise weather stations connected to the BAS system to optimise environment conditions.
• Advanced commissioning protocols that are reinforced by the Construction Contractor being contractually obligated to remain resourced on site for at least a month after the completion of defects and commissioning to ensure successful operation of the building. Smart Strong Structures Test Laboratory
• This Smart Strong Structures Test Laboratory is part of Swinburne University’s research strength and planned growth and accommodated on the ground level of the Advanced Technologies Centre. The laboratory activates the Burwood Road frontage of the Building and is highly visible through a 9m high glazed wall.