Wood features strongly in university’s efforts to promote integrative learning


UTS Dr Chau Chak Wing Building. Photo: NZ Wood


The University of Technology Sydney Business School takes a practical and integrative approach to business education. The school aims to produce graduates capable of ‘integrative thinking’, who can combine traditional business skills with those from disciplines such as design and engineering.

The Business School wanted the Dr Chau Chak Wing building to encourage a greater interdisciplinary collaboration between disciplines, researchers, industry and practitioners. As a response to this objective, a key interior focus of the building lies in the two ‘log cabin’ style oval classrooms located on the lower two floors which allow students to interact with each other in a collaborative manner across the room and with their teacher at the centre or side, rather than having a front-facing focus.

The glue-laminated (glulam) radiata pine beams of the oval structure and adjoining staircase creates a character defining sculptural form within the building’s atrium void as well as creating striking internal space for lectures and interaction.

The three dimensional jenga style design of the oval classroom structure required an innovative approach to documentation & assembly. The structure was documented in 3D using Gehry Technologies Digital Project which allowed for the a fabrication to close tolerances and accurate positioning of the 150 large solid glue laminated timber beams, each weighing up to two tonnes and the longest measuring 12 metres. The oval structure also required considered engineering as the classrooms feature the world’s longest timber-concrete composite floor construction and the first in Australia.

Production of the individual glulam blocks required exact precision and finishing achieved by the use of precise CNC profiling. Manufacture of the glulam items for this Sydney project was carried out in NZ by TimberLab Solutions. The demanding construction of the complex layers of blocks to form this three- storey timber oval classroom was undertaken by F & D Normoyle Engineering Ltd.

For its innovative engineering, the UTS Dr Chau Chak Wing building won New Zealand’s Timber Design Awards (Engineering Innovation & Excellence in EWP).