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University of Technology Sydney’s Future Super Lab

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In a submission to the City of Sydney, the University of Technology Sydney proposed a major redevelopment of a section of its current campus. The development, which will involve upgrades, infills, and building demolitions, is expected to cost approximately $30 million. The property location, with Broadway Sydney's precinct, is facing Harris Street and Turner Lane.

Submitted plans outline that the demolition of the existing single-storey structure, currently acting as the University Hall, in order to create an additional 2,500 square metres of construction area. The project will also involve the construction of an eight-storey extension to the science building, stated to house a future super lab.

The science facility will be constrained to only 1,080 square metres, as there already are two buildings that limit the size and access to the new building. The challenge was taken by H2o Architects, who designed the facility to accommodate 12 new laboratories, a flexible, hot-desk workspace, and all necessary amenities. It is planned to be as adaptable as possible, especially since science and commercial needs and requirements are likely to change over the coming years.

Enhancing Student Experience

Mentioned in the proposal, the cutting-edge UTS super lab is the primary component of the construction plans, offering an excellent and heavily-involved science experience for students. Plans outline that the facility will be loosely based on London Metropolitan University (MET) super lab — an open-plan design with ultra-modern technology to ensure students have a premium learning experience.

UTS is also currently under a major renovation of the main building of its central Sydney, Broadway precinct. The billion-dollar master plan construction project is expected to "redefine the Broadway campus, create additional connections within the campus, and further enhance the student experience. It will significantly support the university's long-term strategic plan including significant growth in research while positively contribute to the urban quality of the precinct," says the UTS construction website.

Demolition for the 17-storey development, named Building 2, began in November 2016, and  heavy construction started in November 2017; the completion is projected in 2019.

The UTS website describes the building: "The Building 2 podium on levels 3-8, overlooking Alumni Green to the north and Broadway to the south, will be a vibrant, connected student space featuring a triple-height scholarly reading room occupying a commanding position overlooking the Green. The reading room connects seamlessly into the new UTS Library, which will span three levels and will include a range of different study and learning spaces."

Futuristic Design

"Building 2's outdoor spaces will include a grand flight of stairs connecting level 4 to Alumni Green and acting as an informal space for students to gather, connect and share ideas. An outdoor terrace off the middle library floor on level 8 runs the full length of the building, providing an excellent vantage point overlooking Alumni Green. The icing on the cake will be the 'activated' rooftop, with consideration currently being given to various activities."

Building 2, due to its incredibly futuristic glass casing, has involved some unusual engineering feats to provide the building with a structural framework. As a result, the tower has a floor size that shrinks and varies depending on the twist, with sloping columns supporting each individual floor.

The 113 sloping columns will be installed in the building during the concrete pouring. Trials suggest that the best method to keep the shape and strength of each section is the use of piping tubes with foam cores, which will help the concrete retain its form. The concrete will also be poured with a vibrating stage to remove any air bubbles that may arise during the arduous process.

Building 2 will also be a significant milestone for sustainable construction across the UTS precinct, as approximately 94 per cent of waste materials produced by the site has been recycled since the beginning of the construction project. These materials include "around 35 tonnes of concrete recycled during August, 15 tonnes of timber, and almost four tonnes of metal. Approximately 248 tonnes of waste was recycled during the month — equivalent to the weight of about ten rhinoceroses." (UTS)

 Ultimately, the UTS master construction plan is an enormous, billion-dollar project that is set to completely revolutionise the university and the Sydney skyline. The new facilities, new campus, and ultra-modern developments will offer University of Technology Sydney students an exceptional platform to pursue the career and avenue of their choice.

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