Sustainable design has steadily become the architecture catch phrase of the day, being thrown around to make us aware that everything we “design” has an environmental burden. Many designers, architects and builders have installed the “idea of green” into their buildings to demonstrate a potential to improve performance and reduce costs through sustainable strategies. One of the main methods of creating sustainability in buildings is with passive design. It has been applied by architects and engineers to achieve highly thermally insulated structures with low energy use. With rising prices and political pressures energy economy has become a key feature in a lot of contemporary buildings. Green star is Australia’s primary “green” large building rating system, evaluating many different aspects of a building and its construction. It sets out to judge a building on its environmental merits and to see if it performs to world class standards of passive design, giving them a number to reflect its viability to be called green, with 6 being the top number. It is important for our learning environments to help us push contemporary ideas and expose its students to relevant topics, so the University of Adelaide set about to take these principles of passive and sustainable design and create Australia's first 6 star, Green star rated education building, Innova21.
Innova21 is located within the University of Adelaide's grounds, directly opposite the eastern side of the Barr Smith Library. As you enter the university grounds from north terrace you are surrounded by a plethora of old classical buildings that funnel you deeper into the campus. You start to see that these buildings act as a face or facade of the campus, as the quality and style of the buildings quickly shifts and you see that the buildings seem to be made up of a variety of time periods. As you descend the stairs through the Walter Young Garden, you finally are greeted with new facade of Innova21, standing out amongst the bricks and mortar of its surroundings. Its simple double skinned glass facade mixed in with the strong horizontality of the circulation slicing through, helps frame the main entrance into the building and clearly shows you not only where to enter the building, but how you move around in it. As you are drawn into the lobby the open bright echoey space blurs the lines between the inside and outside, with a roof made of a substance called ETFE it connects you with nature by sight and sound, while keeping you sheltered from the elements. The space also forms a connection between the existing building next to it, making the area not apart of either building but a shared space. Once actually inside the building one of the most noticeable features is how quiet the building itself is, without the background noise from an overly intrusive air-conditioning system, the sounds of the people and activity of the spaces dominates your ear. The internal circulation...