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New space, a hub of success
October 22, 2013

Students and staff of the University of Adelaide are enjoying the results of a multi-level all weather learning hub they helped design.

Located in the heart of the University’s North Terrace campus, Hub Central is an initial point of contact for students, offering a wide range of informal learning spaces. It is a place where students can relax and exchange information. There’s a strong focus on student support - whether it’s wireless connectivity, 24 hour access to computers, print stations, Skype booths, the post office or somewhere to purchase food.

Architect firm Hassell spent more than 9,000 hours consulting with students and staff to ascertain their needs and the functional requirements of the space. The result, a 10,500 square metre hub spread over three levels.

Contracted to provide mechanical services, O’Connors worked closely with Project Manager Anthony Ranaldo from the construction company Baulderstone and the Mechanical Design Engineer Stuart Livingstone from Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR).

Andrew O’Connor, Managing Director of O’Connors said the team opted for an indirect evaporative cooling system with energy efficient supply and exhaust fans, as there was limited chilled water capacity. “Indirect evaporative cooling has created an entirely new category of cooling and is typically able to cool hot ambient air up to 35°C,” Andrew said. “The heat exchanger

modules do this without adding moisture to the air and at a fraction of the running cost of traditional refrigerated methods. It slashes power use by up to 80%.”

“One of the challenges of the project was to achieve comfortable air distribution without it feeling draughty. The key to achieving this was the use of twenty highly efficient Fantech Gamma EC roof mounted fans to supply air and a further 11 roof mounted variable frequency driven fans to exhaust air. Together they produce 465kW of cooling and supply 35,000 L/s of fresh air. Fantech sound attenuators fitted to the distribution system ensure minimal noise impact on the occupied spaces.”

Natural lighting and ventilation to provide a healthy learning environment were important aspects of the design. The roof system, comprising screen-printed and transparent ETFE pillows, moves in response to external climatic conditions to let the sun in or provide shade. This places less pressure on the heating and cooling system and further enhances the energy efficiency of the system.”

Mr O’Connor said the success of the project was highlighted by the popularity of the area by students. “It represents world’s best practice, addressing the problems of cooling large open spaces efficiently.”

The innovative design of the project has been recognised by peers as a fantastic achievement and in 2011 was presented with the Gold Award for Built Environment by the Design Institute of Australia (DIA). In 2012, it also received a Commendation Award from the Australian Institute of Architects (SA) for Public Architecture and another Commendation at the Engineering Excellence Awards for Innovation/ Research and Development.


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