Awabakal and Worimi land / Newcastle, NSW
Sam Crawford Architects in partnership with Curious Practice were invited to participate in a two-stage competitive process to design Alumni House for the University of Newcastle (UON).
Alumni House subverts the traditional streetscape of governmental buildings that bound Civic Park. In-lieu of this hard perimeter, Alumni House draws the civic border away from the street and dissolves it deep within the building plan. Recessing the civic edge in this way creates a versatile ground plane and a generosity towards the city. Activity on upper levels is set to the perimeter of the building, inverting the traditionally inward-facing institutional spaces and celebrating the presence and activity of the alumni within. Just as the Awabakal people would inhabit different sites according to the seasons, Alumni House uses passive design principles to modify and strengthen the relationship with the natural environment and reduce the requirement for air conditioning.
The four-storey volume is wrapped in a woven stainless-steel veil that presents a homogeneous form, that is delicate, translucent and lively. The mesh lifts at the corner facing the intersection of King and Auckland Street to reveal a generous civic room carved from the ground plane and extending the footpath paving. The northern façade breaks down the building mass into a finer grain as the heavy building core is revealed to the street. The sandstone clad volume is punctuated by an over-sized, framed pedestrian entry and assertive façade composition that acts as a rigorous counterpoint to the shimmering metal skin Alumni House responds to and respects the site while delivering a vision for the future that is grounded in the ideas of connection, community, conversation, commitment and celebration.
SCA Project Team
Sam Crawford, Jarad Grice, Shane Marshall, Janani Premchandh, Justin Pak
Services Engineers – Northrop
Landscape Architect – Aspect Studios
Access Consultant – Morris Goding Access Consulting
Wayne Finucane, Virtual Vision & Curious Practice
University of Newcastle