Project in Detail
Brain and Mind Research Institute - Youth Mental Health Building
BVN Architecture, Sydney, Australia
World Architecture Festival 2010 - Category Winner
John Gollings - Gollings Photography
The Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) is part of the Faculty of Medicine of The University of Sydney focussed on research into mental health and clinical issues relating to the brain. The Youth Mental Health Building consists of two floors of consulting and patient interaction and two floors of research laboratories.
The building is part of a satellite campus of the university located in a light industrial area formerly known for clothing trades. This gritty urban area is respected for its heritage streetscapes and the specific site of the BMRI has a heritage listed façade which required retention.
The organisation of the building places the two research floors above and the clinical floors below allowing an upper level bridge connection to further research laboratories in two adjoining buildings. This configuration fitted neatly with the requirement to retain the two storey heritage façade allowing the street composition to be expressed by the placement of the laboratories in a clearly articulated ‘new’ glass box effectively on top of the old façade, with the more tactile people spaces accommodated within the realm of the older component.
The further requirement to step the building toward the north to ensure sun penetration to neighbouring houses enabled the new glass box to ‘slide’ over the older building creating a large scale composition with smaller scale detailed elements at the conjunction of the forms.
At the street edge the materials reflect the light industrial context – steel, recycled timber and face concrete block. Internally the floors are linked by an open stair and small atrium containing the social space of the centre. Meeting rooms and all facilities are accessible from this central space, with materials relating to the exterior – timber, steel and concrete – but they are used at a more tactile scale reflecting the need to participate in the daily theatre of human activity.
The ‘box’ is clad with translucent glass planks ensuring diffuse daylight to the laboratories throughout the day, resulting in very low energy consumption.
Client / Developer
Brain and Mind Research Institute
The University of Sydney