Transparent Research

OKAWOOD Functional Glass from OKALUX Engenders Optimal Working Atmosphere in the Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne

The Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity – named for the Australian Nobel Laureate for Medicine, Professor Peter Doherty – is one of the newest high tech leading edge institutions in the fight against infectious diseases. The official opening of the new institute building, that unites a multitude of organisational groups, facilities, and experts under one roof, took place on September 12, 2014. Designed by Grimshaw and specialist laboratory architects Billard Leece Partnership the architecture of the Institute lives up to the cutting-edge purpose of the building itself. This is the first time that OKAWOOD functional glass from OKALUX has been used to this extent in Australia.

The facility was constructed by Brookfield Multiplex Constructions for the University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Hospital. An inherent driver of University policy is to strive for a “Green Star” Certification from the Green Building Council Australia for every building project on the campus.

Efficient Overall Concept

Medical research institutions are usually extremely resource-intensive buildings – both during construction and in operation. The Doherty Institute breaks new ground. With its approx. 25,500 square meters of floor space distributed over fourteen levels, this highly efficient building was planned to use 20% less electricity and produce 50% less greenhouse gas emissions than any comparable facility. These savings are made possible by a combination of ‘active’ and ‘passive’, technical and design strategies. Part of the concept is, among others, cogeneration, rainwater harvesting, the incorporation of a greywater treatment garden on the roof, high-performance glazing, and the use of timber inserts with variable spacing in the cavities. This ground-breaking overall solution was awarded a 5 Star Green Star design rating.

Open Exchange

In order to best fulfill the requirements of the different users, Grimshaw and Billard Leece Partnership developed a flexible and adaptable design solution. With major units occupying complete floors, smaller, self-sufficient units can be occupied on shared floors and all units have the ability to work vertically and horizontally with other users in the building. Specialist laboratories are concentrated in the centre of the floors. Individual departments have clear identities but are also able to access and link with each other. There are also areas reserved for collaborative working and informal functions distributed throughout the facility. This engenders both an internal exchange as well as a connection to the external Parkville District.

Effective Performance

The transparency between the individual areas and the public space is represented by the façade. Although uncommon in a building for biomedical use, this transparency effectively reflects the spirit of the Institute and provides good penetration of natural light into the facility.

In order to optimize the use of daylight, three façades of the building were fitted out with the OKAWOOD functional glass from OKALUX. Among these is the double shell curtain wall system on the northern side of the building – this is the side which faces the sun in Australia. A filigree timber grid in the cavity serves as an effective, direction-selective sun and glare protection. Variable spacing of the timber slabs allows light transmission and visual amenities to be perfectly suited to the requirements of the laboratory or offices behind them. Staff profit from good views to the outside with a comfortable daylight atmosphere in the interior.

The performance of the system is not limited to functionality. With its natural aesthetics, OKAWOOD blends into the sophisticated overall concept of the Insitute in perfect harmony. The rounded façade corners presented a special challenge. A new product variant with bent timber grids was expressly developed for this special installation to ensure a consistent design of the building shell. The inserts of FSC certified birch wood support the sustainable planning of the building. The protected installation in the cavities makes the system maintenance-free and very long-lasting. All of these aspects additionally enhance the overall performance of the building and have not only culminated in the award of the “Green Star” rating but also the Australian Timber Design Award 2014 in the category of timber panels and the Geoffrey Sanderson Trophy for Best and Most Distinctive Use of Engineered Wood Products.

University of Melbourne Note:
“The Doherty Institute is an unincorporated joint venture partnership between the University of Melbourne and Melbourne Health. The Doherty Institute partners and their affiliates gratefully acknowledge the significant funding assistance provided by the Australian Government’s Education Investment Fund and the Victorian Government.”

Object: Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Melbourne/AUS
Client: University of Melbourne/Melbourne Health
Architect: Grimshaw, Melbourne/AUS and Billard Leece Partnership, Melbourne/AUS
Builder: Brookfield Multiplex Constructions
Opening: September 2014
Glass: OKAWOOD with timber grid from OKALUX GmbH, Marktheidenfeld/Germany

Source: OKALUX GmbH/okalux.com