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Dr Chau Chak Wing building; Dr Chau Chak Wing building;

Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, Ultimo, Sydney, NSW

Designed by Gehry Partners, UTS' Dr Chau Chak Wing Building is a landmark building in Sydney

The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, designed by internationally renowned architects Gehry Partners, is a landmark building in Sydney. The new University of Technology, Sydney’s (UTS) Business School is a fusion of architectural and engineering vision, and an exciting place to work and study.

Engineering complex design

Inspired by a tree house, the stacked, undulating design features two major façade materials. The glazed western face blends into the Sydney CBD behind the building, the curved brick exterior reflecting its industrial Ultimo location.

The façade’s irregular form is matched by the shape of the communal, office and lecturing spaces within. Each floor plate is tied to the façade at a uniform distance, creating spaces that mimic the waves of the building’s exterior. This irregularity creates a series of floor plates that are each completely distinct in size and shape.  

Sloping concrete columns intersect the perimeter slab edge at various angles, merging and diverging as they weave their way around the building’s perimeter. Architecturally, the building’s internal spaces are maximised, providing engaging environments for its occupants. The balancing, sloping columns required careful design to ensure structural stability.

To achieve the rolling aesthetic, the curved façade was constructed using individually laid bricks. Our façade engineers worked closely with the sub-contractors to realise a practical, innovative and durable system.

Working with Gehry

Arup has previously worked with Gehry Partners and used the firm’s Building Information Modelling (BIM) software, Digital Project, on a number of projects including the Singapore Sports Hub and the National Stadium in Beijing. This technology was used to create a single shared model between all design consultants.

With staff in Sydney and a team member on site with the main contractor, Lend Lease, Arup was able to respond quickly and effectively to the project’s design and construction demands, seamlessly interchanging between software platforms both in analysis, and documentation and construction. This was particularly useful when resolving in-plane forces in the slabs and clash detection between the structure and other disciplines.

Our collaborative approach in both design and construction ensured that delivery proceeded with minimal disruption – a real triumph on such a complex and innovative building.

Constraints and heritage

The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building is located on the old Dairy Famers Warehouse site, which is constrained by adjacent buildings and an old heritage sewer system underneath the site.

Our geotechnical and structural engineers challenged the provided in-ground characteristics and achieved a cost effective solution to constructing a basement within a contaminated and constrained site that had the potential to halt the completion of the project.

A revolution in education

This newest addition to the UTS Campus is part of a larger Master Plan to fundamentally change the way they deliver teaching, learning and research and to ensure the University remains at the forefront of the local and tertiary education sector.

The building is also one of Sydney’s greenest education buildings, with the awarding of a 5 Star Green Star – Education Design v1 rating from the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).

Arup was instrumental in achieving this by driving design elements including the high-performance glazing system, the specification of more sustainable construction material including material replacement in concrete, steelwork and reinforcement, using energy reducing processes and timber sourced from responsible sources.