The Curtin Resources and Chemistry Precinct has been developed and built to encourage cooperation and collaboration between educational, commercial and government bodies bringing together Curtin University’s School of Applied Chemistry, the Chemistry Centre of Western Australia, and the State Government’s analytical chemistry laboratories.
The building, which provides approximately 15,500 square metres of floor space, has four levels of state of the art laboratory and support accommodation with a fifth level occupied by plant and air handling equipment. In recognition of the continually evolving nature of the research being undertaken, the fixed elements within the laboratories have been minimised to allow reconfiguration of spaces with minimal disruption to the building structure and occupants.
The design of the external building and main public spaces reflects the activities which are undertaken inside. The use of brick cladding implies solidity and stability. The sunshade patterning represents mineral stratification in clay pits. The sloping structural steel elements of the foyer are abstracted from electron microscope images of clay platelets. The pattern of the feature metal cladding symbolises highly magnified water crystals.
The activities within the building require extensive services to ensure a safe working environment. Co-ordination and integration of the services into the available space proved challenging but was achieved whilst still allowing for any future modifications that may be required and providing ease of access for periodic maintenance.
The construction of the building was carried out within the confines and limitations of an operating university campus. Extensive continual liaison with the university staff was undertaken to ensure minimal disruption to the day to day operation of the university and to ensure the well being of the students. Near completion of the building access was provided early to allow staff to familiarise themselves with new equipment, relocate existing equipment and generally establish their work areas in preparation for the arrival of students and commencement of business.