Woods Bagot to design education landmark in tropics

Nov 24, 2010
  • Article by Online Editor

A design by Woods Bagot and RPA Architects has been chosen for The Cairns Institute, the new headquarters of the James Cook University (JCU) Cairns campus.

The $25 million project will be a research hub for humanities, social sciences, business and law. It is hoped the design will attract postgraduate students internationally and bring a high calibre of researchers to the Institute.

The proposed design includes an evolving landscape skin, known as a trellis, which encapsulates sun control and aesthetics and allows the internal spaces to be viewed through holes in the structure. The building, surrounded on three sides by rainforest slopes, will remain connected to the landscape.

“Intrinsic to our design proposition was a concept that celebrated the rainforest setting and enriched the place experience. The proposed facade is layered and evolutionary – landscape is encouraged by shape – the building is blurred into the landscape itself,” explained David Derbyshire, Director RPA Architects.

Woods Bagot Principal Mark Damant continued: “A truly imaginative and integrated design solution that was distinctive and uniquely desirable to the JCU community was paramount.” The building has various microclimate ecologies and JCU is hoping to achieve a Green Star rating of 5 or higher.

The Queensland-based practices were selected for the project following a public display of five shortlisted designs and feedback from the Cairns community. The project will be part-funded by the Federal Government, which has awarded a $19.5 million grant to JCU for the institute. Construction is expected to take a year, commencing in the second quarter of 2011.

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