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Case Study: Dr Chau Chak Wing

26 June 2015 - The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building is the first building in Australia designed by Frank Gehry, one of the world’s most influential architects. It is a key element of the $1 billion redevelopment of the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) City Campus and will provide teaching, learning, research and office space for UTS Business School.

Design from the inside out
Gehry Partners designs 'from the inside out', meaning the interior spaces must be developed before work on design of the building's exterior can begin. The exterior emerges only as a result of what will happen inside the building.

Frank Gehry's creative reaction to what he learned about UTS Business School's approach to learning and research was to sketch a 'treehouse' on a café napkin - imagining a building where people can undertake quiet, focused work in offices and other rooms in its 'branches' then meet in formal and informal social spaces in the 'trunk'.

The treehouse metaphor has been realised in a design that encourages interaction - whether in the form of the 'social' spaces at the trunk of the building or in the prominent use of stairways, providing the potential for serendipitous meetings.

“Thinking of it as a tree house came tripping out of my head … A growing, learning organism with many branches of thought.”

Frank Gehry

Indoor environment quality

The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building was the first UTS building to be awarded a 5 Star Green Star - Education Design v1 rating certified by the Green Building Council of Australia. Sustainability has been considered throughout the building in the choice of construction materials, interior furnishings, and energy-efficient heating and cooling.

Improved indoor environment quality was a key focus of the building, and with this in mind Desso AirMaster carpet was selected for use throughout the building. The patented technology of this carpet captures and retains hazardous particulate matter making it eight times more effective in capturing and retaining fine dust than hard flooring, and four times more effective than standard carpet solutions.1

According to Colin Bray, Regional Managing Director, Desso: 'the selection of Desso AirMaster carpet throughout the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building is a source of enormous pride for us, as it shows UTS's commitment to good design combined with the critical importance of indoor environment quality.'

The air that we breathe has a crucial effect on our health and well-being. Since we spend on average more than 90% of our time indoors, the air quality inside is of utmost importance. The presence and size of particulate matter (PM) or fine dust is a determining factor in air quality and is directly linked to potential health problems.

Once inhaled, these particles can contribute to the spread of microbial contaminants, such as mould, pollen and allergens. In addition, they can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious physiological problems.

The indoor air quality at in schools and universities has a major effect on the health and wellness of students and staff. In fact the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls indoor air quality one of the top five environmental health risks of our time.

This is particularly relevant for schools and universities, and to support this a Californian study found that asthma cases among elementary students were reduced by 65 per cent when the indoor environment quality of the school was improved,2 and a New Zealand study concluded that a classroom's design had the same influence on student's test scores as their teacher. 3

Cleaner air is beneficial to a healthy office and learning environment. DESSO AirMastercaptures harmful fine dust from the air more effectively than any other flooring solution. To find out more visit: :

For more information about the Dr Chau Chak Wing project, please click here

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1 Based on tests by GUI with Desso AirMaster versus standard PVC hardfloor and versus standard structured loop pile carpet. For more information see:
2 Meng Y, Babey SH, Wolstein J. Asthma-Related School Absenteeism and School Concentration of Low-Income Students in California. Prev Chronic Dis 2012
3 Jackson, Q. Daylighting in schools: a New Zealand perspective, BRANZ, 2006

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