The University of Newcastle’s newly completed Q Building, has overcome the hurdles of the pandemic to open its doors right on schedule, despite the challenges of incorporating innovative and sustainable materials 

Construction company Hansen Yuncken used timber extensively throughout the building to reduce embodied carbon and minimise construction waste, and an electrochromic façade to increase energy efficiency and occupant comfort. 

“Having come through the barriers created by COVID-19 and the challenges from the building’s cutting-edge design, we pride ourselves on adding another project to our sustainability portfolio by completing the construction on time, while meeting all technical requirements and remaining true to the aesthetic design of the building,” project manager at Hansen Yuncken, Jonathan Russell said. 

Located on the University’s Honeysuckle City Campus, completion of the building was fast-tracked by the NSW Government’s “shovel-ready” infrastructure stimulus program. 

“The extensive use of timber on the Q Building required a unique approach. One key achievement was navigating the long lead-time for timber supply from Europe during the global pandemic to deliver this sustainable, innovative building,” Russell said. 

“Thanks to our well-developed BIM management techniques, advanced build methodology and reliable partner networks, not only did we manage to secure a total of 24 container loads of timber and accessories, but we also completed the mass timber elements ahead of schedule.” 

According to Russell, a similarly rapid design coordination process was also achieved for the exterior which used electrochromic glass from international company, SageGlass.

The electronically tintable glass allows control over solar impact and the effects of heat and glare, and can be operated manually or through a building’s automation. 

According to the company, the technology allows building owners to reduce overall energy loads by an average of 20 percent and peak energy demand by up to 26 percent, while eliminating the need for shutters and blinds that can clog the exterior of the building. 

As well as acting as an aesthetic and sustainable piece of design the building will serve as home to the University’s creative disciplines of Media Arts Production, News and Digital Media, Animation, Creative Arts, Performing Arts, Song writing and Music Production.

It will also house the Future Arts and Science and Technology Lab (FASTLab) as well as the Integrated Innovation Network Hub (I2N) geared for the incubation, start-up, scale-up and launch of new commercial ventures.

“These facilities will be incredibly important for new industries and economic growth in our region to thrive,” Professor Zelinsky said. 

“Q Building will be a place to participate and collaborate, and I welcome anyone to enquire and engage in this unique space. I’ll be looking forward to the first graduates to make their way into the world after studying in this terrific facility.”

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