lahznimmo architects were engaged by the UTS to refurbish several levels of the Building 1 Tower to house the Student Administration Unit and the Information Technology Division. Constructed in the early 70’s, the building is unfairly decried as ‘one of Sydney’s most ugly buildings’. However UTS recognize Building 1 as a significant work of mid-century modernism, where structural expressionism along with robust and natural finishes are central to the architecture.
Within the tower the precast post-tensioned concrete floor system was originally exposed to view. A simple refurbishment strategy had already been established by the UTS that gathered rooms around the central core; creates open plan to the perimeter, and re-exposes the concrete coffers to view. Our approach was to wrap the core in a colourful and taught glass skin, capped with a solid timber ledge and brass mesh that acts as a continuous return air plenum. The glass acts as double sided ‘whiteboards’ and introduces fresh colour to the otherwise white and grey interior. Only door hardware is allowed to interrupt the glass skin – with all jambs, frames and trims supressed. Materials and finishes were selected to complement the early 70’s expression of the building, utilizing brass, clear finished timber, pressed straw ceiling tiles and a palette of mostly warm tones juxtaposed with brighter strips.