Susan Wakil Health Building at the University of Sydney | Billard Leece Partnership + Diller Scofidio + Renfro
CLIENT: University of Sydney
SIZE (GSF): 230003
LOCATION: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
COMPLETED: March 2017
GROUNDBREAKING: August 2018
BUILT: November 2020
OPENING: February 2021
PARTNERS: Benjamin Gilmartin,Elizabeth Diller,Charles Renfro,and Ricardo Scofidio
PROJECT DIRECTOR: Holly Deichmann Chacon
PROJECT DESIGNER (CONCEPT DESIGN - DESIGN DEVELOPMENT): Chris Hillyard
PROJECT DESIGNER (DESIGN DEVELOPMENT - CONSTRUCTION): Jess Austin
TEAM: Javier Bidot Betancourt,Merica May Jensen,Yushiro Okamoto,Quy Le,Lilian Fitch,Bre Rouse,Barry Beagen,Daniel Markiewicz,Roy Peer,Sean Rowe,and Youxin Chen
BILLARD LEECE PARTNERSHIP AND DILLER SCOFIDIO + RENFRO: Design Team Lead
ARCADIA LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: Landscape Architect
BONACCI GROUP: Structural and Civil Engineer
UMOW LAI: Building Services Engineers
GTA TRAFFIC: Traffic Consultants
PHILIP CHUN: Building Surveyors
URBIS: Town Planning Consultants
LAING O'ROURKE: General Contractor
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Susan Wakil Lower Garden: Forecourt and Main Entry. Photography by Brett Boardman
The Susan Wakil Health Building brings together the University of Sydney’s Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, the Central Clinical School of the Sydney Medical School and the Sydney School of Health Sciences along with the Library and other components of the Faculty of Medicine and Health. Designed by Billard Leece Partnership (BLP) and Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), this 21,500 m2 building is located within the University of Sydney’s new health precinct, which is optimally positioned near the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the Charles Perkins Centre. This consolidation of clinical, teaching and research functions serves as a new model for health facilities, unifying education and practice.
Upper Wakil Garden. Photography by Brett Boardman
“Our design creates a new common ground for the University, the Hospital and the Charles Perkins Centre, while respecting the site’s historic significance as a gathering place. The landscape rises to encompass shared facilities for research and learning, branching out into a three dimensional network of open spaces connected at every level from inside to outside. At the heart of this network is the Upper Wakil Garden — a multivalent and dynamic reinvention of the campus quad. A ‘cleave’ within the upper volume of the Susan Wakil Building draws light down into the Garden throughout the year, while its interlacing circulation acts as a connective tissue between academic workplaces and clinical spaces within,” said DS+R partner Benjamin Gilmartin.
Lower Entrance from Charles Perkins Centre. Photography by Brett Boardman
Visitors are welcomed by an open forecourt featuring alcove sandstone seating and a sloping landscape path. Through the main entrance of the Susan Wakil Health Building, a light-filled, triple height space with generous stairs straddles interior and exterior, connecting the main entry to Upper Wakil Garden. Seminar rooms, clinics, workspaces, a rehabilitation gym, and a 350-seat lecture theater are plugged into the cleave’s network of informal learning spaces. Activated by a cascade of indoor and outdoor informal collaborative zones, this central atrium maximizes interaction between multiple disciplines.
View of Cleave from Level 7 Terrace. Photography by Brett Boardman
Lobby Stair. Photography by Brett Boardman
The materiality of Susan Wakil Health Building’s façade expresses its distinct program organization. The upper floating mass of teaching spaces and workplaces is clad with a high-performance shading screen with a vertical rhythm, framing views to the campus and city beyond. The transparency of the open, porous ground floor is expressed by a simple curtain wall glazing system. At the podium, horizontal ceramic panels and aluminum screens reminiscent of stone evoke solidity and the lifted strata of the earth below.
Interior View of Shading Screen. Photography by Brett Boardman
WINGARA MURA DESIGN APPROACH
Located at the intersection of two waterways historically significant for the Gadigal people, the Susan Wakil Health Building was designed as an extension of the landscape, embodying the University’s Wingara Mura design principles. Arcadia Landscape Architecture has designed Gadigal Ground as an interpretation of the cycle of healing, stirring the body, mind and soul to reflect the Gadigal people’s approach to healing through the engagement of all the human senses. The design celebrates the site’s origins as a meeting hub, generating a network of pedestrian pathways from all corners of the campus into the Upper Wakil Garden. Its shaded gardens, terraces, ledges and paths will extend the spaces of learning, reflection, and social exchange into the outdoors. Water cascades from Upper Wakil to Lower Wakil and down towards the rest of the campus network.
Lobby. Photography by Brett Boardman