With land in urban areas at a premium, and tertiary student numbers at an all time high, universities are increasingly looking to build up rather than out. While not a new trend – the University of Technology Sydney’s iconic Brutalist tower and many of Queensland University of Technology’s multi-storey blocks date back a few decades - it is fair to say that high-rise university buildings are on the increase.
While it is more expensive to build a tall building in terms of construction expenses, eliminating the need to purchase large tracts of additional land provides a significant cost saving. High rise buildings offer a longer life than purpose-built individual facilities, with multi-use learning environments being more adaptable as teaching methods and subject areas evolve over time. The smaller building envelope and metropolitan location of vertical campuses also provide the advantage of improved sustainability, with a reduction in its carbon footprint by utilising existing utility and public transportation infrastructure.
The practice of building up delivers many benefits while also producing a few challenges. In traditional “horizontal” campuses, one of the most important elements is the use of open spaces to connect a university’s buildings and facilities. These areas – such as quadrangles or courtyards – not only link different sections of the university, they also play an essential role in creating a social precinct for students, staff and visitors. High-rise campuses tend to employ innovative design features - such as open staircases and escalators in place of elevators, atriums, balconies and multiple social zones - to deliver this interconnectivity in a vertical environment.
In June 2017, the University of Newcastle opened a vertical campus housing the Faculty of Business & Law and the new School for Creative Industries. Nine stories in height, NeW Space provides a flexible learning environment for students in place of traditional lecture theatres, and features 23 “new generation” collaborative learning spaces with 800 informal study seats.
The building has been designed to be open and accessible on every level, with numerous facilities that promote engagement with local industries, businesses and the wider community. A ‘campus green’ is a key feature of the ground level, acting as a student social space, community interaction area and outdoor learning zone. Six double-height “urban rooms” (or balconies) on three sides of the building deliver a sense of space and openness, while also providing natural light and views to the campus surrounds.
To discuss how Premis Solutions can assist you with your next university refurbishment project, call us today on 1300 773 647. You can also check out our other education build and refurbishment projects here.