The latest twist at UTS Central

3 July 2018

Double Helix Staircase UTS Central

World Architecture Festival finalist UTS Central has had another breakthrough moment, with the final piece of the intertwining “double helix” stairway now in place.

At the end of June, the last piece of the giant puzzle that forms the double helix staircase at UTS Central was lowered by mobile crane into its place high above the ground.

The 15-metre high staircase will be the showpiece of the new student hub, located next to the Tower Building on Broadway, symbolising with its DNA-spiral design how breakthroughs in science and technology have transformed our world.

Such a complex design and construction process was not without its challenges, says UTS Central’s Senior Project Manager, Dane Sinclair. “It’s such a major piece that it has been essential to thoroughly model and test the stairs in 3D design prior to fabrication.”

The 15-metre high staircase was produced in sections off-site in Sydney by manufacturers Active Metal from local steel and curved glass, and then trucked to the site.

According to Sinclair, the team had a "dress rehearsal" during which a prototype of a section was made to determine the logistical difficulties of the final installation. This diligent preparation meant that the final nine-tonne piece slotted in perfectly.

The stairs were intentionally located on the facade on Jones Street at a key intersection between two forms of the building, connecting the lower podium form and facade with that of the tower.

Now safe in its new home at UTS Central, the double helix sits in a vast void, with dual landings on opposite sides of levels 4 to 7, the risers crossing mid-floor and a ribbon spiral design element continuing at the top of the stair.

It's one of three ‘architectural’ stairways in the building, which will link the main student spaces in the lower floors of the building, inviting movement and connection. The double helix design is also practical: it moves twice as many people between levels – taking pressure off the lifts – while maintaining the same footprint and area of a single spiral stair.

The completion of the double helix showpiece is the latest milestone for UTS Central, which was last week shortlisted as a finalist in the prestigious World Architecture Festival.

Video supplied courtesy of Active Metal Pty Ltd, who are supplying and installing the stairs in UTS Central

Scheduled for practical completion in 2019, the 17-storey building – the final element of the UTS’s $1.2 billion campus masterplan – will be home to the UTS Library, Faculty of Law, research facilities for the Faculty of Engineering and IT, student spaces, a SuperLab and more.

Designed by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp, with Lacoste+Stevenson and DJRD, and built by family-owned Richard Crookes Constructions, the building is intricately linked to its surrounds.

It will use recycled non-potable water for toilet flushing and to irrigate the landscaping supplied by the Central Park project.

A district cooling connection will see chilled water supplied by the Frasers and Sekisui House development’s underground Energy Centre to the UTS Central Plant, via insulated chilled water pipes.

One of UTS Central's most distinctive features will be its glass-encased façade, and installation of the glazed panels is now underway on the podium (lower) levels.

Apart from the futuristic feel that glass lends to the design, the UTS Central façade will bring a striking sense of openness and transparency to the centre of campus. The Alumni Green façade will facilitate views within and beyond the building, while allowing an abundance of natural light into the new UTS Library and cavernous Reading Room, with its triple-height atrium.

Over coming weeks, the managing contractors will progress the installation of the façade and it will become visible from higher spots around the Broadway precinct.

While the façade and the double helix staircase may be stealing most of the limelight at the moment, UTS Central's interiors continue to evolve. Watch out for updates soon on some of the big interior spaces, including the Reading Room and new food and beverage spaces off Alumni Green.

Byline: Alex Wise