Students and staff of the University of Adelaide are enjoying the results of a
multi-level all weather learning hub they helped design.
Located in the heart of the University’s North Terrace campus, Hub Central is an
initial point of contact for students, offering a wide range of informal
learning spaces. It is a place where students can relax and exchange
information. There’s a strong focus on student support - whether it’s wireless
connectivity, 24 hour access to computers, print stations, Skype booths, the
post office or somewhere to purchase food.
Architect firm Hassell spent more than 9,000 hours consulting with students and
staff to ascertain their needs and the functional requirements of the space. The
result, a 10,500 square metre hub spread over three levels.
Contracted to provide mechanical services, O’Connors worked closely with Project
Manager Anthony Ranaldo from the construction company Baulderstone and the
Mechanical Design Engineer Stuart Livingstone from Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR).
Andrew O’Connor, Managing Director of O’Connors said the team opted for an
indirect evaporative cooling system with energy efficient supply and exhaust
fans, as there was limited chilled water capacity. “Indirect evaporative cooling
has created an entirely new category of cooling and is typically able to cool
hot ambient air up to 35°C,” Andrew said. “The heat exchanger modules do this
without adding moisture to the air and at a fraction of the running cost of
traditional refrigerated methods. It slashes power use by up to 80%.”
“One of the challenges of the project was to achieve comfortable air
distribution without it feeling draughty. The key to achieving this was the use
of twenty highly efficient Fantech Gamma EC roof mounted fans to supply air and
a further 11 roof mounted variable frequency driven fans to exhaust air.
Together they produce 465kW of cooling and supply 35,000 L/s of fresh air.
Fantech sound attenuators fitted to the distribution system ensure minimal noise
impact on the occupied spaces.”
Natural lighting and ventilation to provide a healthy learning environment were
important aspects of the design. The roof system, comprising screen-printed and
transparent ETFE pillows, moves in response to external climatic conditions to
let the sun in or provide shade. This places less pressure on the heating and
cooling system and further enhances the energy efficiency of the system.”
Mr O’Connor said the success of the project was highlighted by the popularity of
the area by students. “It represents world’s best practice, addressing the
problems of cooling large open spaces efficiently.”
The innovative design of the project has been recognised by peers as a fantastic
achievement and in 2011 was presented with the Gold Award for Built Environment
by the Design Institute of Australia (DIA). In 2012, it also received a
Commendation Award from the Australian Institute of Architects (SA) for Public
Architecture and another Commendation at the Engineering Excellence Awards for
Innovation/ Research and Development.