Eye-catching golden and silver louvres wrap the new health faculty building at Deakin University’s Burwood campus, establishing a landmark quality for the Woods Bagot design that is also highly functional.

Situated at the university’s entrance, ‘The Burwood Highway Frontage’ now stands complete as the architect’s response to two key provisions of the original brief proposed by the university: “make a gateway building for the campus and make it functional.”

Beginning with the project’s massing, Woods Bagot oriented the 17,000sqm building away from the highway on the southern edge of the site and broke it into two distinctive forms; an eight-level golden tower cantilevered on concrete pilotis and a five-level silver podium building that intersects with the tower to create a t shape.

Two north facing courtyards are scattered around a glazed part of this intersection and provide a social gathering space for students and staff, as well as a landscaped continuation of the surrounding campus.

 Click to enlarge Site Plan^

Besides on the very southern façade, both of the building’s forms are completely wrapped in high-performance glazing and either gold or silver aluminium sun-shading louvres that came from Jangho Curtain Wall Co.

Woods Bagot note that both the colour and orientation of the louvres serve important purposes that again return to the provisions of the brief.

“The building was broken into two clear forms: one taller in gold to accentuate the entry into the campus, and the other in contrasting silver to hold the edge of the main road and respond to the public realm,” says the architects.

“The depth and angle of these blades have been extensively analysed to maximise their effectiveness which when combined with the slender floor plates has the added benefit of providing high daylight penetration, glare control and external views from 80% of the usable floor area."

The off-form concrete came from Caelli Group and Advanced Precast is used for the building’s pilotis and slabs, as well as the meandering access ramps and staircases around the building.  

Alucobond-clad free-standing structures are dotted around the periphery and house the building's mechanical plant and services.

The building’s service to its occupants comes from the interior floor plan which the architects said borrowed from contemporary workplace design.  “It provides task, social and rest spaces; promotes collegiality; and connects departments, students and faculty within the building,” says Woods Bagot.

The building’s HVAC system is a combination of hydronic slab heating and underfloor diffusers provided by OP Industries which eliminates the need to condition the air above.

Key features are the slatted timber wall from Woodform Architectural and ceiling panels from Echopanel which continue the vertical louvre theme from the building’s exterior.

Wayfinding is also used to allocate the function of space and this done with variations of carpet tile from Desso and provided by Godfrey Hurst.

The Burwood Highway Frontage is currently being considered for the Australian Institute of Architects Victorian Chapter Awards.

Photography is by Peter Pennetts.