Winner of The People's Choice Award, 2011
This Microscopy building is the centrepiece of a composition of buildings for the University of Wollongong - Innovation Campus. Sited within a courtyard between three storey precast concrete research buildings and connected over 2 levels via a naturally ventilated glass ‘link’ this delicate timber structure will house some of the countries most powerful microscopes.
The microscopes are highly sensitive to electromagnetic interference, as such any continuous structural elements in the vicinity are required to be non-ferrous. This functional requirement was the driving force behind the timber structure and cladding.
The primary structural system is glue laminated timber portal frames up to 700mm deep ensuring a clear span of 12 metres over the microscope suites on the ground floor. The timber portals are oil-finished and expressed internally. The walls of the Microscopy are framed using 140x45mm hardwood studs that extend to a height of 17m. The folded timber façade profile is created by fixing gang-nailed timber trusses vertically off the side of the stud frame.
The coastal location generates constant exposure of the façade cladding to wind driven moisture. The facade was also required to meet the universities’ warranty policy of 10 years. A proprietary hardwood weatherboard cladding system known as Expression Cladding supplied by Woodform Architectural was selected for this purpose. Pacific Teak, was the species selected for the upper shell cladding as it has the highest weathering characteristics and a uniform ‘light-brown’ colour. Spotted Gum was selected for the base cladding for it’s natural deep-brown hue with streaks of blonde variation. This was desirable for a more intimate and tactile experience at ground level.
The Spotted Gum cladding continues into the ‘link’ to complete the internal wall lining. A hoop pine plywood bridge zig-zags longitudinally along the link, creating a break-out area for the conference facility and connecting to the adjoining research buildings at Level 1.