Project Description

Location: Parkville, Victoria
Architect: John Wardle Architects and NADAAA (USA)
Client: The University of Melbourne
Value: $100 million
2015 Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) – Daryl Jackson Award – Educational Architecture
2016 Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) –  Award for ‘Excellence in Sustainability’ – winner

Umow Lai has provided sustainable design and Green Star services for the new Melbourne School of Design building at the University of Melbourne.

“This project is at the cutting edge of educational design and we are proud to be involved and provide our sustainability expertise to one of Australia’s leading educational centres in the built environment,” says Shane Esmore, a director of Umow Lai and head of the firm’s sustainability team.

“One of the aims of the new $100 million Melbourne School of Design building was to be able to foster opportunities to engage in discussions about new construction technologies, the way students learn in a space and how this building could inform others on the campus. And as a member of the project team, we enjoyed the challenges that arose.”

Shane highlights that while a Green Star Education Design stage 5 Star rating was originally being targeted in line with the University of Melbourne’s Green Star policy, the extent of the sustainable design initiatives in place led to the building achieving a 6 star rating, as well as 10 points for innovation. A nationwide first.

The 10 innovation points included:

  • Umow Lai completed an extensive EN15978 compliant whole building, whole of life cycle assessment that considered the embodied carbon impact of the construction process.
  • Cross laminated timer  concrete composite slab research and testing
  • A pre-occupancy study of the building occupants
  • Providing no on-site car parking
  • Integrating the Joseph Reed façade from the former building into the new building. (The facade is National Trust listed and was previously located on Collins Street in Melbourne’s CBD).

Designed around a large atrium, the new building comprises dedicated spaces for research along with studios, lecture theatres, a library, exhibition areas and specialist workshop spaces. An unusual feature is the timber-clad studio space suspended within the atrium space which also features exposed laminated veneer timber beams.

The façade of the new building is a striking juxtaposition of old and new. The former Commonwealth Bank façade has been retained integrated within the western facade. Parametrically designed perforated zinc solar shading systems are wrapped around the north, east and western facades.

The perimeter office spaces are mixed mode, operating when weather permits, to allow natural ventilation through the use of automated louvres that are also able to be used in the central atrium to draw air through the building.

As part of the water efficiency strategy, a 750,000 litre underground rainwater storage tank has been installed to collect harvested rainwater to provide recycled water for the toilets throughout the five-level building, for the external gardens and for use within the high efficiency water based heat rejection system on the roof.

Umow Lai was part of the project team with Brookfield Multiplex and John Wardle Architects in collaboration with Boston architectural firm NADAAA.


Finalist, Excellence in Sustainability Award – AIRAH Awards 2016

Finalist, 2014 Banksia Awards ‘Innovation in Social Infrastructure > $100 Million’ category