Nestled in the foothills of the NSW Blue Mountains and fronting the western side of the Great Dividing Range, the historic country town of Lithgow sees a hefty average day/night temperature differential of nearly 12 degrees.

Temperature differentials aside, Tanner Kibble Denton Architects (TKD) had a task ahead of them when looking to transform the Charles H Hoskins Memorial Institute building—a 1927-built and since neglected brick structure—into a sustainable and light-filled space for the building’s new inhabitants.

The $8 million adaptive reuse involved the transformation of the vacant public facility into a new Outreach Campus for the University of Western Sydney (UWS) and required significant retention of the building’s fabric and an upgrade of the building’s energy efficiency. 

A key design feature of the build is the addition of a new lift lobby and entry on the northern side of the building which connects to the main entry via a new steel and glass gallery on the western side of the main hall and floods the interiors with natural light.

Considering the original brief, choosing a windows and doors system was a tedious task for TDK who had to ensure their adaptations delivered the requisite energy savings in conjunction with a high level of quality naturally lit space.

It took over 15 months for TKD and their consultancy team to strike the right balance of U-Values, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) and visible light transmission (VLT) when choosing their glazing, and their selections were based on meeting BCA and Green Star requirements, as well as other factors such as sound performance and aesthetic reference.

TKD didn’t want to rely heavily on mechanical heating and cooling so they chose double glazed units for spaces that saw high solar penetration. The units are a sealed insulated double glazing product from Viridian called ThermoTech and TKD chose to add a low emissivity coating to the glass on the western fa├žade to allow an even balance of VLT and U-Values.

Like the glazing units, which have a thermal break in between the internal and external panels, the window and door frames chosen by TKD are a thermally broken aluminium variety specifically designed to minimise heat or cold transfer.

ThermalHEART Series 804 and 826 windows and Series 852 Hinged Doors from Evolution Window Systems were those chosen by TKD and also offer a high level of sound insulation which was important for classrooms and theatres that affronted the busy street.

Another interesting glass choice from TKD is the self-cleaning windows applied to sections of the building that are harder to clean. Once again TKD chose a Viridian product called Renew and combined it with an insulated double glazed unit and a thermally broken aluminium window framing.

The Renew glass has a dual cleaning action that breaks down and disintegrates dirt deposits when exposed to either UV rays or water and can reduce cleaning costs.

The fritted butterfly roof provides weather protection for students between the lobby and toilets. The screen printed glass also provides sunshade for the lower half of the building by filtering light before it penetrates the ground floor lobby.

The new UWS Lithgow campus by TKD Architects did achieve a 4 star Green Star Education Design V1, but more importantly became a highly useable space that is suited to the specific pedagogy of the UWS College.

TKD chose to retain a significant portion of the building’s internal and external fabric—its character or so to speak - but showed that with clever glazing choices even old, derelict buildings can be transformed into comfortable and light filled spaces.

Images: TKD Architects