Interior Space Award of Excellence: UTS Central, Sydney

Richard Francis-Jones
Design Director
Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp Pty Ltd, Sydney

Patrick Woods
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Resources)
University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Sydney

A Reinvented Reading Room Forms the Heart of a Modern Vertical Campus

University of Technology Sydney (UTS) is a vertical campus on the fringe of Sydney’s CBD. Due to its proximity to the major metropolis, it was crucial that the campus be intentional about embodying a sense of academic community for students, while also filtering out into the city. To achieve this, emphasis was placed upon spaces that enhanced collaboration and communication for students and faculty.

By positioning the stairs and escalators at the perimeter of the building, these circulation amenities are highly visible both internally and externally, further reinforcing the activation and use of the building, while creating large open floors for informal learning. Lifts are also discreetly positioned to further encourage the use and activation of the stairs and escalators, and maintain open floors within the podium, which is divided into numerous spaces, both within the library and distributed throughout the building on all podium levels. A double-helix staircase functions as a dramatic centerpiece, activating the interior by allowing visual continuity between levels.

This approach is echoed in the new, three-story Reading Room, which adjoins the library as part of the podium, and faces out onto the Alumni Green, a crucial open space for the campus. As the heart of the campus, the Reading Room reinvents the traditional study space, using a highly transparent and contemporary design language. Within the podium, there are two 350-person collaborative teaching spaces, and a single 200-person collaborative teaching space. Ultimately, these rooms, while spacious enough to accommodate large numbers of students, provide an intimate learning environment across only two levels, maintaining connectivity between students and lecturers.

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