the ‘susan wakil health building’ at the university of sydney — diller scofidio + renfro’s first built work in australia — is preparing to welcome its first students. set to open in february 2021, the project is the first of three buildings to be completed as part of a new health precinct that will bring together the university’s central clinical school sydney nursing school, sydney school of health sciences, and components of the faculty of medicine and health.

diller scofidio + renfro's 'susan wakil health building' set to open at the university of sydney
all images by brett boardman

designed by DS+R in collaboration with billard leece partnership, the new health precinct is optimally positioned adjacent to royal prince alfred hospital and the charles perkins centre. embodying the university’s ‘wingara mura-bunga barrabugu’ commitment to aboriginal participation and cultural understanding, the design conceives the building as an extension of the landscape, respecting the site’s history. located at the intersection of two historic waterways, the site holds significance for the gadigal people. this unseen history connects the site to the wider campus network geographically, complementing a contemporary network of pedestrian pathways.

diller scofidio + renfro's 'susan wakil health building' set to open at the university of sydney

‘the health precinct was designed to provide a 3-dimensional network of open spaces for the university, fostering both educational collaboration and physical health,’ explains DS+R partner benjamin gilmartin. ‘three new buildings in our masterplan are linked by indoor and outdoor spaces, forming a dynamic reinterpretation of the campus quad. within the wakil building, a central atrium provides a light-filled space activated by circulation and gathering spaces that connect seminar rooms, workplace, laboratories and classrooms beyond. the building volumes appear to float above a folded ground plane, welcoming visitors while fostering a connection with the site and surrounding landscape.’

diller scofidio + renfro's 'susan wakil health building' set to open at the university of sydney

promoting health and longevity, the design draws in light, views, and ventilation, encouraging active circulation and socialization with an emphasis on stairs over elevators. the building blends indoor and outdoor, creating a connected, multilevel common ground space for students, educators, and researchers to interact in. the raised upper volumes of the building feature a high performance screen system that provides shade while framing views of the campus from within. meanwhile, the lower portion of the façade is an aluminum curtain wall system with ceramic panels on the outer face. at the building base, ceramic panels reminiscent of stone evoke the lifted strata of the earth below.

elsewhere in australia, DS+R recently released its updated design for the ‘aboriginal art and cultures centre’ — a major new institution planned for adelaide. see other projects by the new york-based firm on designboom here.

project info:

name: susan wakil health building at the university of sydney
sydney, australia
architect: diller scofidio + renfro in collaboration with billard leece partnership
client: university of sydney
size (GSF):
230,000 sqf / 21,368 sqm
february 2021
more info: DS+R’s website

philip stevens I designboom

feb 06, 2021