CHROFI collaborated with ASPECT Studios in a shortlisted design competition for a two hectare parcel of open space in the Kensington Campus of University of New South Wales. We collaborated on the overall strategic approach to the project and provided designs for the Alumni Pavilion.
The Alumni Pavilion was to serve as a flexible space for current and future Alumni events as well as form a memorable backdrop for key ceremonial events at Alumni Park.
Its site response is informed by two distinct site relationships - first, the long axial prospect over Alumni Park the future heart of undergraduate life and second, the immediate heritage context. This heritage precinct contains some of the oldest buildings on campus. It is also defined by a row of large Moreton Bay Figs. The rich dappled light created by these giant tree canopies gave hints to the internal character of the Alumni Pavilion.
We were also sought to create a relationship to the enduring architecture of Goldstein Hall, one of the campus' early modernist buildings that sit adjacent to the Alumni Pavilion. These civic scale buildings erected on the outskirts of Sydney amongst windswept grass spoke of 'confidence' in knowledge driving our future.
We felt the spirit in which these early modernist buildings were created is still very much here as the foundation to UNSW's identity. Together with this heritage fabric, we saw an opportunity for the pavilion to symbolically connect the past with the future, and spatially combine a fine grain arrival experience with the long vista available over Alumni Park.
Concurrent to the site response, we began to formulate a programmatic response.
Character wise, the university has some exceptional quality venues however, as an internal experience, they are indistinguishable from other conference and function facilities in the city. From this observation we asked, what would make Alumni Pavilion, as a place, experientially distinct from other venues?
Hence as a first move, we split the program. The black box teaching theatre space below with direct loading via basement parking, and a light filled pavilion above, purpose designed for Alumni events. The 30 x 30m concrete space frame roof would create a powerful civic scaled interior experienced befitting to its significance.
We were attracted to the elemental interplay between mass and lightness, ground and sky. The four corner columns and the perimeter beam, anchors the space, concurrently the design reaches outwards and draws in the landscape to be an integral part of the pavilion experience.