Architectus’ $220.5 million, 14-storey university campus design for Parramatta has now been completed.

The ‘high-rise’ university is Western Sydney University’s (WSU) first vertical campus, as well as the first of its campuses to be located in the heart of a major CBD.

Photography by Sally Tsoutas

The Peter Shergold Building at 1 Parramatta Square (1PSQ) represents a radical departure from traditional lecture theatre design. Instead, Architectus’ design encourages innovation, interaction and discovery by incorporating smaller, informal learning spaces across six floors of the building. The plan includes space for group study rooms with screen sharing and video conferencing, and collaborative learning studios.

Photography by Nicole England 

These learning studios are intended to promote the ‘flipped classroom’ model of group-based learning. Writable walls, computers on wheels, high-tech cameras and interactive touch screens are just some of the features that facilitate this.

Photography by Sally Tsoutas

The Parramatta City campus will accommodate 10,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students from the university’s School of Business, among other discipline areas. Professional services firm PwC and government agency WaterNSW will also take up space in the building.

The campus marks the completion of the first phase of Parramatta Square’s $2-billion redevelopment. The broader project will also include dual commercial towers by JPW, a civic and community building at 5 Parramatta Square by French firm Manuelle Gautrand Architecture in collaboration with Designinc and Lacoste + Stevenson, and a residential tower by Bates Smart.

From the architect:

The design of 1PSQ draws [on] urban design, architecture and landscape architecture to create a place that significantly contributes to the revitalisation of Parramatta Square and regeneration of Parramatta CBD.

Originally intended as an A-Grade 15-storey office building, 1PSQ was transformed into a 5-star Green Star education campus for WSU through a rigorous process that tested the flexibility and resilience of the initial commercial base-building design.

1PSQ owes its stepped form to the sun access plane, which protects the heritage-listed Lancer Barracks to the south east. The podium maximises the available site coverage and the tower cranks back to the west to sit below the sun access plane and responds to the oblique geometry of the Smith and Macquarie Street intersection.

A building in the round, 1PSQ gives careful consideration to the treatment of the ground plane and the public spaces created around and under it. Retail frontages within a two-storey colonnade activate Smith Street to the east, culminating in a suspended public art installation by Emily Floyd at the entry to Parramatta Square. To the west, a new laneway provides an active and vibrant pedestrian link.

Photography by Nicole England 

The main lobby entry fronting Macquarie Street provides a formal address and engages with the street edge. The southern entry is less formal and engages with the eastern extent of Parramatta Square, providing direct access to the train station and bus terminus. The tiered amphitheatre creates a dynamic outdoor room which interacts with the central atrium space and the flexible work spaces located against the southern façade.

The triangular atrium at podium level draws light into the centre of the building, creating a sense of community and a focus for communication and interaction. The work environment is dynamic and flexible, and suits open-plan and cellular office fit-outs [which include] floorplates of 2145sqm at podium level and 1250sqm at high-rise level. The podium floorplates have proven ideal for adaptation to the new teaching and learning model developed by WSU and showcase the flexibility of the base building solution.

Photography by Sally Tsoutas

The podium floors terminate at Level 8 as the sun access plane pushes the building envelope to the west and into the more regular tower footprint. The change in building form creates a large open terrace at Level 9 [that opens onto] panoramic views and a generous landscaped break-out area.

Photography by Sally Tsoutas

Levels 9-14 are prime [examples] of highly-efficient and flexible A-Grade commercial office space, with the large central structural span and balanced external cantilever delivering large generous and connected floorplates.

The core, which is clad in a light-coloured terracotta rain screen that evokes the tones of the sandstone prevalent in many of Parramatta’s historic buildings, is located on the west taking advantage of the highest part of the sun access plane envelope. [This] shields the building from the harsh western sun, allowing it to have a highly transparent façade without relying on excessive external shading.