Charles Sturt University at Wagga Wagga, is one of the only regional universities offering Veterinary Science programmes outside metropolitan centres. Completed in October 2009, The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) provides facilities for training in the early years of its Veterinary Science program, as well as opportunities for post-graduate training and research. The facility supports commercial operations and also provides assistance in the investigation of animal health and natural and experimental diseases. The specialist laboratory facilities required physical containment to PC2 and PC3 standards.
Considering the campus’ rugged rural setting, the architectural response integrates generic agricultural building materials that reflect the unique site. A ‘farm shed’ aesthetic has been applied, particularly in the external ‘plant’ enclosures where horizontal timber ‘planks’ were used to conceal the equipment. This unique detail was also reinforced at the entry of the building. The simplicity of ship-lapped, spotted gum timber panelling, profiled steel sheeting, steel mesh and concrete all combine with strong angular forms to create a sense of historic permanence. Contrasting with its clinical interior, the vernacular ‘tin-shed’ envelope offers an invitation to witness science in action, creating an educational resource, not just for the students, but the broader community.
The harsh Wagga Wagga climate, ranging through dust storms, drought, high winds and flooding, with temperatures from sub-zero to in-excess-of 40 degrees centigrade required a robust environmentally sound solution. The VDL design epitomises the very essence of a ‘smart’ Life Sciences, learning and research facility in a regional setting. A facility that is not only cost effective but innovative, appeals to its surrounds and is grounded in fundamental ESD principles. It is a sophisticated facility with a serious function, clad in a humble skin that fits neatly into its rural setting.