University of Queensland Global Change Institute
"The Global Change Institute was founded on the promise of dealing with change; of managing and responding to it; of encouraging collaboration and exchange across disciplines. GCI stimulates thinking and generates new ideas to answer community puzzles and global problems."
Penelope Wensley AC, Former Queensland Governor
The Global Change Institute (GCI) at The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia has unapologetically big ambitions. It wants to be a global leader in addressing the challenges of a changing world.
The university's bold goals required a "remarkable hub". HASSELL collaborated with UQ to design a net zero-energy and carbon neutral 'living building' that acts as a live research site and showcases the university as an exemplar for ecological transformation.
By operating entirely on the renewable solar energy captured on site, GCI demonstrates the university's excellence in advancing new technologies for sustainability and areas of global change.
A model for addressing the impacts of climate change
The ground-breaking sustainability initiatives of the GCI building exceed industry measures. The GCI design team pioneered the first Australian use of structural geopolymer concrete, a low-carbon product produced with relatively low greenhouse gas emissions.
The naturally ventilated building can operate with no mechanical heating or cooling for over 80 per cent of the year. Innovative natural cooling measures include flushing chilled water through the exposed Geopolymer concrete floor panels. On the hottest days, a closed mode is activated, which pre-cools air through a labyrinth before an innovative "free-energy" comfort conditioning system cools and dehumidifies the air.
The building also features an operable sun shading system, which directs air across occupied spaces to the central atrium –the building's lungs – discharging warm air through its thermal chimney.
The translucent ETFE atrium roof insulates from the sun's heat while allowing natural light into the interior. Optimal natural lighting is supported by environmentally-friendly LED lighting.
Our design ensures that GCI's ongoing operational costs are extremely low. The building has no mains grid power-use bills, and rainwater storage of 60,000 litres is harvested and stored for amenities, kitchens and the hydronic cooling and heating system, as well as irrigating a bush tucker garden.
As a research tool, the building's conditions – like airflow from the hydronic cooling system – can be modified and data collected to offer valuable insights into low-energy buildings for the sub-tropics. Lessons gleaned from the GCI can be applied to other buildings, advancing the knowledge and technological base of sustainable construction.
Designing for flexibility and adaptability
Our design also fosters collaboration. The building is a 'hub and spokes' model, with a large central atrium at the centre leading to flexible teaching and learning spaces.
Researchers can engage with the broader community, including government, business, industry and education in these spaces to advance research on climate change issues. Researchers are able to work more efficiently, flexibly and adaptively thanks to wireless technologies and paper-free operation.
Ultimately, with the GCI, the University of Queensland has evidence that smart design can shift thinking about buildings as consumers of the world's resources to those that contribute to the restoration and regeneration of the environment.
2016 Property Council of Australia Innovation and Excellence Awards - Award for Best Sustainable Development - New Buildings
2015 Consult Australia Awards for Excellence - Sustainability in Design Gold Award
2015 Australian Institute of Architects National Awards - David Oppenheim Award for Sustainable Architecture
2015 Australian Institute of Architects National Awards - National Award for Interior Architecture
2015 Australian Institute of Architects (Queensland) Award - Harry Marks Award for Sustainable Architecture
2015 Australian Institute of Architects (Queensland) Award - RG Sutter Award for Educational Architecture
2015 Australian Institute of Architects (Queensland) Award - GHM Addison Award for Interior Architecture
2015 Australian Institute of Architects (Queensland) Awards - Brisbane Regional Commendation for Eucational Architecture
2014 BPN Sustainability Awards - Winner - Public Building and Urban Design
2014 Australian Steel Institute Queensland and Northern Territory Steel Excellence Awards - Winner for Steel Excellence in Buildings
2014 Australian Steel Institute National Steel Excellence Awards - High Commendation for Steel Excellence in Buildings - Large Projects
2013 IESANZ Queensland Chapter Lighting Design Awards – Award of Commendation
2013 BPN Sustainability Awards – Winner – Best of the Best (product award for Suspended Geopolymer Concrete Floor Panels)
2013 BPN Sustainability Awards – Winner - Innovation of the Year (product award for Suspended Geopolymer Concrete Floor Panels)
University of Queensland, Interior Design China, December 2014, pp. 124-127
University of Queensland Global Change Institute, Architecture and Detail (China), no. 6, 2014, pp. 358-363
Engineering building alive with data by Erin Mayo, Campus Review (Australia), June 2014
The Practice in the Theory, Pacific Rim Construction magazine (Hong Kong), May/June 2014, pp. 38-41
Global Change Institute, University of Queensland, Urban Environment Design (China), May 2014, pp. 144-151
Global Change Institute, FuturArc (Singapore), January/February 2014, pp. 40-45
Client University of Queensland
Education and Science
Scale 3,865 sqm
Location Brisbane, Australia
Photography Peter Bennetts
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