After a two-year construction period, the architectural marvel known as the National Centre for Synchrotron Science (NCSS) is finally complete.
Located in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton, the building sets a new standard in high-tech science research facilities and will play host to a number public, corporate and research-based functions.
The two-storey building features a 400-seat auditorium, seminar rooms, exhibition space, office areas, a cafe and public gallery areas.
Built to reflect the circular form of a synchotron particle accelerator, the building’s internal layout features the lecture theatre in the very middle of the structure, encircled by event space.
The building’s most spectacular feat is inarguably its reactive and responsive façade. Consisting of a translucent polycarbonate and finished with a dichroic protective coating, the façade refracts and diffuses light, changing its colouring throughout the day.
According to design director Kristen Whittle of Bates Smart Architects, light and its impact on the space were thoroughly considered throughout the project, as evidence by lighting features such as the ‘glowing’ auditorium and the exterior signage.
“The absolute mantra of the project is to create meaning through reduction, paring back the detailing and the finishes so that the sole experience for the visitor is the quality of the light, nothing else,” she says.
Whittle goes on to explain the importance of the building as a key communication tool, connecting the public with the wider scientific community.
“I’d like to think that NCSS resides at that interval between the meaning of science and culture – the advancement and the creation of research at the point where it becomes meaningful to the public and therefore meaningful to our progression and advancement as a culture,” she says.
The NCSS building has also received a 5 Star Green Star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. The building includes both environmental design and green technologies, which include a 20 kilolitre water tank, energy efficient heating and cooling and 100 rooftop photovoltaic panels which offset the energy needs of the building’s spectacular façade.
The building emblematic of modern science buildings in Australia, which hold the triply-impressive distinction of being highly functional, highly aesthetically pleasing, and highly environmentally responsible.