The design of the Charles Sturt University (CSU) School of Engineering building in Bathurst accommodates sustainability and collaboration.

Created for the university’s ‘unique degree’, which equips students with both engineering and business skills, the ThomsonAdsett-designed project incorporates an interior that features an agile, honeycomb learning area; changing gallery spaces equipped with electronic, interactive walls; and open, interconnected, flexible lab spaces.

“We developed a ‘Honeycomb of Learning’ – a spatial planning strategy which adds cohesion to the entire building,” says the architects. “These clustered collaboration zones express the co-curricular and collaborative nature of the new learning cohort.”  

These zones also include honeycomb-like features in its flooring (tiles and carpet) and ceiling designs, adding design interest and continuity.

Beyond this, the building was steeped in progressive sustainability principles, which culminated in the project taking out the Education category at the 2017 Sustainability Awards. The acknowledgment in October followed an Award for Educational Architecture and a Commendation for Sustainable Architecture at the 2017 NSW Architecture Awards.

As the Sustainability jury noted: “[This is a] building [that demonstrates] holistic sustainability leadership for students to create a spark for the next generation of thinking and learning. This honeycomb of learning will take our leaders into a positive future – we look forward to watching them come out into the world to create even more meaningful change.”

The project reused and redesigned two existing buildings on campus. Energy-efficient lighting and control systems feature throughout, and solar panels and solar/hybrid air-conditioning assists with reduced energy consumption. Energy is also recovered through a mechanical heat exchange process.

Considering the building’s context, ThomsonAdsett also specified exterior materials that were similar to regional farm and shed buildings. The architects say that “the form and re-use of the existing frames symbolises home, complements the rural shed aesthetic and maximises the use of embodied energy”.