The Western Sydney University (WSU) has just got a new office, gallery and meeting space in the shape of the Chancellery fit-out by Australian architects Allen Jack + Cottier.
The Sydney based architecture firm was called upon to work on this project – the redesign of an existing space within the university’s Parramatta campus – which would become one of the institution’s key centres.
"It needed to be both welcoming, open and elegant, yet still feel grounded and relevant.' - Director and Head of Interiors, Scott Norton.
The challenge for this project was to create a space that reflects the University’s place in an international community whilst retaining the connection to the Western Sydney context: it needed to be both welcoming, open and elegant, yet still feel grounded and relevant.
A new identity
Coinciding with the official rebranding of Western Sydney University was the opening of the new Chancellery at the Parramatta Campus. This location represents the geographical and symbolic heart of Western Sydney University, and reinforces the network with Sydney’s largest growing economic and business centres.
The Chancellery is designed as both a functioning workspace as well as a busy meeting place for international guests, colleagues and students. Allen Jack+Cottier created a contemporary high-end interior reflecting the University’s reputation and aspirations for the future. The fitout provides a more open and collaborative setting rather than a traditional institutional feel.
Modern and inclusive
Architecturally, the spaces are very crisp and clean, with public and private spaces clearly delineated by an undulating timber wall. Back of house workspaces are designed to bring in light and views and to encourage a more collaborative approach to what is essentially a cellular structure.
A sophisticated palette of materials is used throughout, with an emphasis on natural or matt surfaces for a more grounded feel. Black graphic elements such as joinery framing, shelving and window partitions create drama within the space against a neutral palette. Timber adds warmth and texture to the wall that separates the public and private areas, and is used as a finish on bespoke joinery throughout.
New Chancellery for an internationally focused Australian University: Meeting Place, Workspace & Art Gallery
Allen Jack+Cottier’s sophisticated new fit-out for The Chancellery at Western Sydney University (WSU) takes workspace design to another level. It is an uplifting, inspiring and active hub with sharp, clean lines, warm native timber, subtle lighting, beautiful artworks and contemporary furniture. This part administrative office, gallery, and meeting place has been designed to reflect the Chancellery’s pivotal role within the university, and its growing presence in the international academic community.
Director (Architecture + Interiors) Scott Norton, who led the design team speaks of AJ+C’s approach, “Our starting point with good workplace design is that it has to work at a practical level, whilst reflecting the vision and aspiration of our client. In this case, we were very fortunate that the Vice Chancellor clearly understood the value of good design.”
The space is centrally sited in the WSU Parramatta campus, occupying a floor with eastern, northern and western facades, affording district views over the campus green and beyond. “Working with a building with low floor to ceiling heights of 2.4m and a requirement to maintain all the existing infrastructure and services was very challenging. As was controlling the balance of natural and artificial light. But this generated the most innovative solutions and the result is an elegant interior that works well functionally, and feels very special.” – Scott.
It was important for public and private spaces to be clearly delineated. To achieve this, AJ+C created an undulating timber wall, clad in timber battens, running the length of the fitout. On one side are the public spaces, the other private. Visitors to the space have free access within the public areas creating an open and collaborative atmosphere. The public spaces make up a large proportion of the floor area recognising the importance of the Chancellery’s relationships at many levels.
Following on from last year’s library and administrative service building design, Western Sydney University (WSU) again called upon the services of Allen Jack + Cottier, this time for the fitout of the school’s Chancellery.
The new fitout achieves a balance between being a high-end space that reflects the Chancellery’s pivotal role within the university, and its growing presence in the international community, whilst providing accessibility in the form of a collaborative work environment.
The Chancellery occupies a floor in a new building with eastern, northern and western facades affording district views and access to natural light. It is a multi-use space that accommodates the executives and their staff, provides meeting and collaboration space, and creates a setting for the university’s collection of artworks and cultural artefacts.
The new design had to recognise the functional requirements of the workplace structure while providing an open and collaborative environment that was consistent with the WSU values, creating a space that is office, workspace, gallery and a meeting place for the international academic community.
The layout of the floor is divided into public and private zones based on the location of existing services, flow paths, control points and spatial requirements.
The public and private zones of the space are delineated by an undulating timber wall, clad in timber battens, running the length of the fitout, with the respective spaces defined by the use of different materials, lighting, colours and mood.
The public zones offer an open space which allows free access for staff, students and visitors to the reception, meeting rooms, gallery and bathrooms, with the area defined by dark metal batten ceilings, subtle lighting, graphic elements and refined joinery and materials.
The private workspace is designed to provide a collaborative and sustainable setting to the cellular work structure. The existing architecture generated the placement of offices and open workspace, ensuring all occupants have access to light and views. The use of large sliding doors and glazing promotes increased interaction between staff, while solid partitions created privacy to thoroughfares.
A highly-integrated, bespoke design solution was required to accommodate a low ceiling height of 2.4m as well as the need to retain existing services and infrastructure. Lighting, mechanical grilles and fire services were all custom designed to be installed in concealed positions within the batten ceiling.
The products and materials used reflect the University’s strict standards for sustainable design, with a heavy use of timber providing a warm, natural and earthy feel.