Bricklayers have called their involvement in its construction a “career highlight”, and soon it will be where the next generation of business careers are nurtured.
Designed by internationally-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the University of Technology, Sydney’s (UTS) new Business School, with its rippling façade and angled columns, is one of the most iconic buildings currently under construction in Australia, setting a precedent for future architectural design.
Having been referred to as a “cluster of tree houses”, a “crumpled paper bag” and an “urban sandcastle”, the Dr Chau Chak Wing building’s unique masonry façade—contorting and twisting in a three-dimensional plane for the full height of the 14-storey structure—created structural engineering challenges requiring innovative solutions.
In collaboration with UTS and the brick supplier, AECOM developed a unique brick, tie, mortar and backing system that solved the load, constructability and complex geometrical issues, allowing a near impossible feat of engineering to be realised.
“There is no building in the world that has bricks like this”, Stephen Giblett, AECOM’s Building Structures Lead, told ABC Radio’s “By Design” program.
“The bricklayers on this project are very proud of what they’ve done, because they’ve taken standard bricklaying and they’ve gone back to being the grand masons of centuries past to create something beautiful.”
“One of the bricklayers even has a tattoo on his arm of the bricks which shows the pride they have in what they’ve achieved, and which results in the building’s defining characteristic.”
It’s not just the outside of the Dr Chau Chak Wing building where boundaries are being pushed.
AECOM worked with UTS to embed several sustainability features within the building that again set it apart as a 21st century learning space.
One of the challenges AECOM faced in partnership with UTS was how to heat and cool the building sustainably. The interior consists of various different zones – lecture theatres, offices and meeting rooms – all requiring different methods of temperature control.
The solution? Provide dedicated air conditioning units for each zone, and sensor technology to minimise wastage when a zone is unoccupied. The building also uses a higher than normal volumes of outdoor air to cool fan coil units.
This fresh-air feature, combined with shorter air conditioning ducts means fans don’t need to work as hard, and air-cooled chillers mean the building does not consume much water in the process. In fact, water usage is kept to a minimum across the building, with a fire water reclamation system and water-efficient appliances fitted throughout.