MACQUARIE UNIVERSITY, SYDNEY
1 Institute of Early Childhood 1993
2 Science and Technology Building 1994
3 Administration Building 1998
4 Science Laboratory Building 1998
Architects: dem gillespies
Project Architects: Peter Joscelyne and Trevor Hugh
1 Adco Constructions
2 Leighton Contractors
2 BAM Constructions
3 Conrina Constructions
4 DJD Masonry
Client Brief and Design Intent
From its inception in 1966, Macquarie University's Master Plan specified concrete and dark coloured brick as the preferred materials for all major buildings to give some aesthetic harmony to the campus and to minimise maintenance.
Some off-form concrete buildings have not weathered well and the University asked the architects to return to the Master Plan's concept and use brickwork with no exposed concrete as the main wall material for the four building for which they were commissioned.
Elements of existing languages were studied and it was established that brick and anodised aluminium were the most durable materials and that deep reveals (typically 450mm) not only gave a three dimensional richness to facades, but also aided sun control. Some sun control was added at the upper levels with deciduous and native planting providing the control at lower levels.
The architects' proposal for a lighter brick with a colour palette reflecting campus planting and enlivened by devices such as flush and recessed string courses, banding, and contrasting sills was accepted by the University.
The use of brick and aluminium cladding on the Science and Technology building was to reflect the joint venture of the University and CSIRO housed in the building.
Each building is a conventional reinforced concrete frame with non load bearing brick walls. The first two buildings completed, the Science and Technology building and the Institute of Early Childhood, had cavity walls, but the Science Laboratory and Administration buildings have brick veneer walls with steel stud framing behind stiffening the single leaf walls.
As very few of the University's buildings are air conditioned, the thermal performance of the building's fabric assumes greater importance. It was found that the heat sink effect of the cavity walls could result in reduced summer comfort increasing the need for more extensive sun control devices. Adjustable sun controls were seen as too costly and needing excessive maintenance.
The brick veneer walls of single leaf brickwork and steel stud framed walls with 100 mm of bulk insulation, coupled with heavily insulated roofs and sun control gave significant energy conservation benefits. The Administration building also has a geothermal heat exchange system linked to the air conditioning system.
The architects were commissioned for full services and each building was contracted on the basis of a competitive lump sum tender.
The bricks used in the four buildings came from Boral and Austral in Sydney, Bowral and Boral at Albury. Sample panels were built for each building and these were very important in showing the details and establishing the quality required. The brickwork was generally good, however one bricklaying contractor was replaced for poor quality work and performance. At times it was difficult to get consistent quality due better bricklayers being moved to other jobs by the bricklayer contractor.
In one building the four brick types used were slightly different in size and the sample panel was very useful in working out the jointing adjustments needed to accommodate the differences. The few specials needed were from the brickmakers' standard range. The University required all wall ties to be stainless steel and all exposed steel to be hot dipped galvanized. To minimise cutting and for efficient working, all vertical and horizontal dimensions were to a brick rod. An extra bed joint thickness was necessary at two storey heights for the soft joint needed to accommodate brick growth. The structural engineer advised on movement joints. All bricks were mixed on site, however Bowral bricks were also mixed off site. On one building the softer cream bricks had some arris damage due to handling which was exacerbated by the flush jointing. Similar bricks in a later building were shrink wrapped by the brickmaker.
The University's policy is to have flush jointed brickwork, which increased the difficulty of assessing the quality of brickwork before it was cleaned. The smeared surface of one building did conceal some poor brick mixing that was only revealed after cleaning.
It is possible to minimise this by the bricklayers ensuring that the joints are overfilled so the excess mortar can be stuck off in one pass of the trowel, but it is difficult to get this done consistently. Some difficulties were encountered in cutting bricks for mitred corners on the Science Laboratory building, but the results are only likely to be noticed by architects and bricklayers!
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