Shoot to frill - Swinburne's AMDC nears completion

One of Hawthorn's most prominent buildings is nearing the construction finish line, with final touches now being applied to Swinburne University's Advanced Manufacturing and Design Centre (AMDC). This past Monday heralded the opening of the lower six levels, allowing staff and students an initial look within the learning facility, an image of which is provided below via Swinburne's Facebook page.

Site demolition commenced during September 2011 and although the subsequent ground works, build and fitout have taken some time, the end result is a visually challenging and architecturally unique building defined by its facade frills. With Sinclair Knight Merz (now Jacobs SKM) the driving consultancy behind the project, Swinburne AMDC is set to become "A hub of excellence in manufacturing and design innovation and collaborative learning."

Project Summary

Swinburne University Advanced Manufacturing and Design Centre @ 453-477 Burwood Road

  • Architects: Jacobs SKM & Wilkinson Eyre
  • Project manager, ESD, structural/civil engineer, building services, acoustics: Jacobs SKM
  • Green Star project score: 63
  • Head contractor: Lend Lease via their Baulderstone division
  • Initial budget: $100 million
  • Size: 17,000 squares metres and 11 levels (including two basement levels)

Design Highlights

Externally the facility features heavy use of shaped vertical precast panels which are intended to resemble engine turbine blades. Intended to portray Swinburne's reputation as a leading design and research institute, the frilled facade also provides extensive sun shading while also adding a modern three-dimensional context to historic Burwood Road.

The Victorian-era facade along the Burwood Road frontage has been maintained and incorporated, with the new building set back and designed to 'float' above the heritage feature.

Internally the building consists of two basement levels, dual "Factory of the Future" spaces fronting Burwood Road (see slideshow below) and a sky lobby. Atop the Victorian facade the setback allows for a roof garden according to plans. Also included are lecture theatres, teaching classrooms and workshop space, office accommodation, display areas and student/staff break areas.

Certified Green

Of the building's green credentials, SKM state the following:

One of Swinburne University's main goals was for a facility that minimised resource consumption over its life. To meet this goal the SKM services and ESD teams implemented environmentally sustainable design solutions on the facility which is being certified to 5 star Green Star. This includes the use of exposed thermal mass and radiant cooling, combined with under floor air distribution systems, utilising 100 per cent fresh air ventilation through the principle of displacement ventilation, providing a healthy and comfortable internal environment.

The design of the atriums contributes to the maximisation of daylight in the building, and doubles as a chimney which utilises principles of thermal stratification to exhaust stale, warm air during summer and collect it in winter to pre-heat incoming air. Other features of the design include LED lighting, greywater recycling, rainwater harvesting, extensive external shading structures, and spectrally-selective glass which allows daylight penetration whilst inhibiting direct solar heat gains.

NSW-based manufacturer of renewable and low carbon energy equipment, Simons Green Energy, were contracted to install a 230kWe natural gas fired trigeneration plant. A 230kW Ener-G Cogeneration Plant and a 250kW absorption chiller allows the simultaneous delivery of three forms of energy – electricity, heating and cooling via the use of natural gas. According to reports the system carries a total efficiency of 85 percent compared to the 25-30 percent efficiency of grid-supplied electricity.


From the adjacent AMDC is a cracking building that brings a unique element to the Burwood Road realm. As good as it is from certain angles, it doesn't necessarily impress from others. Exposed core and rooftop plant coupled with dare I say cheap looking facade panels leaves the viewer less than overwhelmed when viewing from the south.

Nonetheless AMDC along with its slightly older Swinburne ATC to the west do complement one another nicely and provide the design statement that Swinburne University sought.

Further reading: SKM Swinburne AMDC page.

Enjoy the image set below taken in recent days.

Burwood Road aspect

Development & Planning

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:00
The swirl of development activity in Footscray has found another gear as new projects are submitted for approval, or are on the verge of beginning construction. Two separate planning applications have been advertised by Maribyrnong City Council; their subsequent addition to the Urban Melbourne Project Database has seen the overall number of apartment developments within Footscray in development swell to 40.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.

Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.


Transport & Design

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 12:00
When a site spans 19,280 square metres, it becomes a 'district'. That's the case according to the development team behind the Jam Factory's pending overhaul. Reporting on the project to date has focused on the close to 60,000 square metres of new commercial space that is earmarked for the site, but more importantly from a layperson's perspective is the extensive new public realm that is planned as part of the development.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 12:00
Cbus Property's office development for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands recently became the first Australian existing property to receive a WELL Certification, Gold Shell and Core rating. The WELL rating goes beyond sustainable building features with a greater focus on the health and well-being of a building's occupants.