A tower with a twist

UTS Central: The new hub of learning

New building - Jones St view

An iconic new building at the heart of our campus will become home to the UTS Library and many new student facilities.

Broadway has dramatically transformed over the last few years, with UTS's Faculty of Engineering and IT and the Central Park precinct forming a modern, striking approach to Sydney's western gateway. The area will change again with the construction of the recently unveiled UTS Central, situated on the corner of Broadway and Jones Street next to the UTS Tower. It will completely replace the existing Building 2. Featuring a spectacular glass facade and a unique, twisting tower, the proposed 16-level building houses a new library plus learning, social and research spaces that will revitalise the heart of the campus.

Acclaimed for developing Sydney's Darling Quarter precinct, Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp architects is leading this new project in association with architects Lacoste + Stevenson and Daryl Jackson Robin Dyke, joint winners of the 2010 Buildings 1 and 2 Podium Extension design competition. Demolition of the existing building is expected to commence in November, pending approval, and construction is expected to be completed in 2019. UTS Central is a major component of the ambitious UTS City Campus – a vision to deliver a vibrant and engaging campus of the future.

Building a world-leading campus

The once-in-a-generation vision originated in 2000 when the university recognised the need to improve facilities and accommodate future growth. It also became clear that the Blake Library at Haymarket, which has served UTS well for over three decades, couldn't keep pace with new styles of learning that have since emerged and needed a more central location.

"The billion-dollar redevelopment of UTS's City Campus realises the university's vision for a world-leading campus at the gateway to downtown Sydney"

Fast forward to 2016 and the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building is a Sydney icon. The Faculty of Engineering and IT building, Faculty of Science and Graduate School of Health building, and a new Alumni Green (with an automated underground Library Retrieval System) are distinctive landmarks that have rejuvenated the campus in Broadway. Thanks to Central Park and food outlets along Kensington Street, the precinct is becoming known for stylish dining and entertainment. UTS Central will further contribute to an exciting Broadway environment, establish a state-of-the-art centralised library and continue the university's reputation for bold, future-focussed and sustainable facilities.

"The billion-dollar redevelopment of UTS's City Campus realises the university's vision for a world-leading campus at the gateway to downtown Sydney," says UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs. "During a defining, transformative period for UTS, three distinctive new buildings have been realised. UTS Central is set to become a centre for innovation and collaboration, while providing the university with additional learning and research space to accommodate future student and academic growth, right in the heart of the campus and with its doorstep on Broadway."

Dramatic study and social spaces

UTS Central's sleek, transparent design is expected to visually and physically connect the building to the surrounding campus and greater community. Facing Alumni Green, a grand stairway is proposed to provide a covered social spot and entrance to the building, plus an entrance on Jones Street to create a link to UTS buildings across the road.

Two underground levels will be retained from the old building; the library, learning commons and other student spaces occupy an expansive podium, overlooking Broadway to the south and Alumni Green to the north.

Among the other proposals are student services such as food and beverage outlets and a tri-level reading room facing Alumni Green provides a dramatic study space with a vista of the campus's green heart. Further ideas are being floated such as collaborative learning theatres that can accommodate 200 to 350 staff and students.

Urban campuses are also often limited when it comes to nature and landscaping, so it is hoped that UTS Central can also accommodate green spaces for socialising or informal study.

A lean and a twist

New building - Alumni Green viewThe main tower section above the podium is envisaged to accommodate faculty and research spaces, with vertical landscaping continuing with winter gardens climbing the northern facade, culminating in a roof terrace.

With rounded corners and a stepped-back form as it reaches higher, the tower will twist and appear to lean away from Broadway and the main UTS Tower, creating a less bulky form at the top. The distinctive feature prevents overshadowing of the opposing Central Park residential tower and optimises solar access on the northern façade and Alumni Green. The entire building's curvilinear shape will also reduce the potential wind-impact that will occur on street level.

While dramatically different to the adjacent UTS Tower in material and form, the building nevertheless shares its horizontal expression of individual floors. It takes Central Park's form into consideration and matches the height of the lower residential tower.

The building "represents a character that is uniquely UTS, and respects and responds to the urban context of the existing campus infrastructure and the Broadway streetscape," says architect Richard Francis-Jones. "The rotation and setback of Building 2's form preserve the prominence and integrity of the adjacent UTS Tower, while the veil-like delicacy of Building 2's façade serves as a juxtaposition to the existing brutalist form."

Designed to inspire

Once complete, the library's central location will enable greater access to a new hub of learning. Outstanding buildings and libraries not only inspire current and future students; they have tremendous influence on how a university is perceived. UTS Central is set to become an iconic landmark that further engages alumni, future students and the broader public with its 21st century approach to education. It embodies UTS's concept of a ‘sticky campus,' a place that invites students to study, learn and socialise.

"We push the boundaries in everything we do at UTS and this building is no exception," says Patrick Woods, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Resources). "The proposed design represents who we are and where we're going. The range of high-tech, collaborative spaces that will be made available by this new building will ensure we have even more impact in learning and research."

Story by Amos Wong