UTS City Campus Master Plan

Artist's plan of the new FEIT buildingIn the coming years, UTS will spend close to $500 million to establish a greener, more open network of sustainable buildings across the city campus to be linked by new public cycleways and pedestrian paths.

It’s a part of Sydney that is rarely featured on tourist postcards but the harbourside’s gritty neighbour in the south is undergoing a quiet revolution. Apartment developments and restaurant strips are popping up, Central Station is earmarked for overhaul, artists’ studios and galleries are flourishing and UTS is forging ahead with an ambitious City Campus Master Plan across Ultimo, Chinatown and Haymarket to establish more green spaces, construct top-rated sustainable buildings and connect the whole precinct through a network of cyclepaths and walkways.

“When you look at the plan you can see that we’re trying to open the campus up. We’re trying to ensure that we take advantage of what is a rather unique location within the city: almost right on top of Central Station, and within easy walking distance of Darling Harbour,” says Patrick Woods, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Resources).

Key elements of the campus plan include a dramatic 14-storey building on Broadway by Denton Corker Marshall architects coated in angled, semi-transparent ‘binary screens’; an underground multi-purpose sports hall; a 13-storey student housing tower on Harris Street; a new Faculty of Business building beside the Powerhouse Museum; extension of the Tower building podium (entranceway) and the extensive refurbishment of existing buildings, including the creation of a new library and student study spaces.

At the heart of the plan is the expanded alumni green at the back of the Tower building, which, following the demolition of a building last year, has doubled in size. There are plans to establish an art gallery, cafes, shops and a cinema, which will all be open to the public.

Next to the Tower, merging into learning and social spaces, will be UTS’s ‘library of the future’: a centre rich in digital resources, as well as a 250,000 open-access book and journal collection and formal and informal learning areas. An underground robotic stacker will house much of the new library’s physical collection. Working with the City of Sydney’s 2030 vision for a ‘green, global and connected Sydney’, the UTS development is set to breathe life into the city’s southern gateway.

“With the implementation of the City Campus Master Plan, we are establishing a learning, teaching and research community in Sydney’s centre that will be supported with state-of-theart facilities,” says Shirley Alexander, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Teaching, Learning and Equity).

Creating the most controversy thus far – ‘Massive shields and gills add shock and awe to UTS’ (The Sydney Morning Herald) – is the Broadway Building design (pictured above) by architects Denton Corker Marshall. Huge uneven aluminium shields will strike out from the 14-storey building on Broadway at acute angles, leaving giant gill-like slits to give the impression of a breathing entity. Binary coding – the language of computer programming – is laser-cut into the shields. The square zeros and dashed ones translate into: ‘University of Technology, Sydney Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology’.

John Denton, of Denton Corker Marshall, says: “The key aspect of the design was recognising the university desired a powerful front door to the campus… [We] were keen to focus on the urban context, as well as to create a single, sharp-edged building that represents all that UTS stands for, with a particular focus on creativity and technology.”

UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Ross Milbourne declared that it will be ‘‘the most significant piece of architecture in Sydney since the Opera House’’, while Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the five-star Green Star*-rated building will transform the University, linking it back into the city in an exciting way. “This is what university buildings should be like – innovative, progressive and sustainable,” she said.

Excavation of the Broadway site will commence this year, with construction set to start in early 2011. From the first draft of the City Campus Master Plan, a key concern has been sustainability: financially, socially and environmentally. With UTS committing to reduce its carbon emissions by 25 per cent over the next 12 years. Planners have trawled through the latest research on sustainability conducted by staff and students at UTS to enhance the vision.

“The Campus Master Plan will incorporate some of that research into it,” says Patrick Woods. “We will also be building five- and six-star [Green Star] buildings as opposed to what we have on campus now, which are three- or four-star.”

Better connections to the local precinct, a more pedestrian-friendly campus and new cycleways are also set to encourage commuters to ride to campus or take public transport. The master plan has now moved into the construction phase, with the commencement of a number of new buildings, including the multi-purpose sports hall under the alumni green and the student housing tower above Building 6.

Recently, the five architectural firms short-listed for the Tower building and Building 2 podium design competition submitted their stage two designs with detailed architectural proposals and design concepts. The winning design is due to be announced in April and construction is set to begin next year.

“We want to create what I call a ‘sticky campus’,” says Shirley Alexander, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Teaching, Learning and Equity). “A campus that students want to come to and that has such a heart and soul to it they want to stay on campus and have those serendipitous encounters with other people from different cultures, different discipline areas and so on.”

Visit the UTS City Campus Master Plan website for the latest information on this project.