The original client brief called for construction of a weather proofed roof to an outdoor plaza built in the 1970s that was leaking onto parked cars in the basement below.
DesignInc’s proposal used inflatable Ethylene Tetafluoro Ethylene (ETFE) pillows supported off a lightweight steel structure free spanning and supported off the existing library and BA buildings. This system is on average around 20% cheaper to install than a typical glass structure, which is heavier.
The space was enclosed by a vertically layered wall infill at each end, beginning with glass to 3m above floor level, one large ETFE pillow, 20m x 3m, above that and 70% open stainless steel mesh to the underside of the arching roof. This layering was designed to shield occupants at lower levels from fierce northerly winds channelled down John Street by the local building typology, but also to allow ventilation to the space at higher levels through the mesh.
The provision of a sheltered plaza offers all weather protection and a multipurpose space. During the semester the plaza functions as an informal gathering space for students and staff. It transforms easily (through lighting and mobile furniture arrangements) for more formal events such as graduation ceremonies.