Completed in early 2014, the Charles Perkins Centre is one of the world’s preeminent medical research institutions dedicated to developing clinical treatments for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Located at the western end of the University of Sydney’s Camperdown campus, the 46,700m2 academic, teaching and research institution is a place where scientists, researchers and clinicians work together to apply newly researched scientific knowledge to practical, clinical applications with meaningful healthcare outcomes – a working methodology known as translational research. The Centre is one of the first buildings specifically optimised to support this approach to research, dissemination and application of knowledge.
The Charles Perkins Centre’s capability is underpinned by substantial primary, secondary and tertiary research laboratory spaces that work in conjunction with specialist units, including the Clinical Research Facility, the Clinical Trials Unit, a medical imaging suite, undergraduate teaching laboratories, a hybrid operating theatre and the Biological Services Unit.
Based upon a reference design supplied by the University, the project began with an invitation from Brookfield Multiplex Constructions to develop architectural concepts during their construction tender bid. The brief was simple: create a building which embeds the Charles Perkins Centre’s goal of enhancing human health and well-being by enabling the findings from scientific research to be applied in a collaborative, interdisciplinary research and education facility.
From the first sketch, this goal was foremost in the development of a design concept that simplified every aspect of the building’s spatial organisation, circulation routes, facility configuration, material choices and architectural detailing whilst ensuring each research facility or specialist unit was visually and operationally interacting with others.
Primary, secondary and tertiary laboratory spaces are organised around a single central atrium, a vast light-filled opening offering a continuous visual and physical connection between all activities taking place. Open balcony circulation routes, glazed lifts and public stairs all encourage the community of researchers, clinicians, staff, volunteers, students and visitors to meet, exchange ideas and innovate.
Externally, the building was relocated on site to complement the adjacent heritage listed St John’s College and a new quadrangle and café was created to form both the campus’ new western hub and the building’s front door.
The new design also allowed for a simple, elegant sandstone and glass façade to complements the adjacent heritage listed St John’s College, along with class leading environmental and energy efficiency initiatives.