Construction work has finally ended at the Frank Gehry-designed Buisness School which is part of the University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS) Master Plan. Dhub previewed the site of the Dr Chau Chak Wing – named after the benefactor of 20 million to the project. The building is still receiving its final touches that will be revealed at the official opening in early February 2015 when both Dr Chau Chak Wing and Gehry will be present.
Beginning the visit at the UTS Alumni Green behind the brutalist UTS Tower, Patrick Woods, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Resources), noted the Gehry designed building is cause for celebration having thrown up unprecedented design, technology and construction challenges that demanded highly innovative solutions. We then quickly made our way to the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building. The Harris Street streetscape in Ultimo is barely altered by the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building which discretely blends in. The east-facing side is a sandstone coloured, undulating brick facade designed to respond to Sydney’s sandstone heritage of Ultimo while the large glass panels of the west facing facade reference the city surrounds.
The building is filled with bespoke touches throughout including the bricks on the exterior that are suspended on a designed metal frame to achieve the undulating surface. While the design may remind you of a crushed paper bag or folds of fabric, the masonry always brings me back to a more earthy analogy of a collapsed clay pot. This is a heavy organic sculptural form that seems more reminiscent of the ‘stone age’ than one of the future. The future conjures images of gravity defying, elegant architectural forms. Nevertheless, the facade would not have been possible without current day innovations. Perhaps the precariously arranged glass sheets may save it from appearing like an eroded or collapsing rock face.
In a previous post DHub looks at the UTS’s Education ethos. As a part of the UTS Master Plan, the building projects go hand-in-hand with the future of education in preparing students for cross-disciplinary and creative learning experiences. This marks the end of the university lecture theatre as we know it. The real world demands preparation for a collaborative and ‘start-up’ environment. With this in mind the University sat with the Gehry team for six months discussing the internal workings of the spaces before the exterior was even considered. In this way the architect responded closely to the needs of educators to develop a fully functioning and workable learning environment. The classroom of the future has Gehry’s signature all over it.
Within the building are a range of adaptable rooms for hi-tech learning including auditoriums, an immersive 3D interactive ‘Data Arena’ and a ‘Super Lab,’ not to mention spaces where students can break-out into collaborative groups and spaces for interaction and the exchange of ideas. The spaces break down the traditional notions of formal education creating new models that support creative thinking. Opportunities for exchange across faculties, face to face sessions and smaller group work support the students as they go about solving issues and problems as part of their coursework. The University’s approach to supporting real learning has been taken very seriously.
“There is a widespread recognition that we need to grow and develop new talent and that we can perform on an international playing field. The Campus is about the future way that students can learn.” said Roy Green.
These are exciting times for the University of Technology and the Ultimo creative district. 2014 has been a big year with the completion of a ground-breaking new Faculty of Engineering and IT building on Broadway, the first stage of a massive subterranean robotic library retrieval facility, new public and student spaces and a science and health education precinct that features a research super lab and cutting-edge learning facilities.
The state-of-the art business school is the University’s latest milestone in the Sydney billion-dollar City Campus Master Plan that includes The Science and Graduates School of Health Building, The Alumni Green, Yura Mudang, UTS Student Housing, and of course the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building.
For anyone who has any doubts about the virtues of the building, the much maligned classic blonde brick that mimics the colour of the sandstone of the Ultimo area is a rejuvenation in its use and I look forward to hopefully seeing its resuscitation in more inventive and creative ways after this project. We have the trained bricklayers and the skills.
Sydney can now boast about its very own Gehry marvel so a visit to Ultimo to view and study the work of the world renowned Canadian architect is a must. If you you don’t like the building, it still offers some of the best photographic opportunities in the city.
University of Technology, Sydney/The Timelapse Company