The Australian Future Fibres Research and Innovation Centre includes the country’s first carbon fibre production facility. It’s also the world’s first research facility for the production of carbon fibre to be located on a university campus and operated by a government-backed research organisation. The new research centre is an exciting collaborative project between Deakin University, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing.
With more than 300 researchers and students based at the centre, the facility will develop new advanced materials, including nanofibres, carbon fibres and smart functional materials. It will also accelerate the transition between research and commercial application of new materials in the fibre, textile, composite, automotive and aerospace industries.
GHDWoodhead has created an integrated facility that showcases fibre technology in an innovative, modern, professional and futuristic environment. This design ethos has been demonstrated in the entry experience, breakout, meeting rooms and central circulation spaces with direct views into laboratories to provide a collaborative and learnt experience
The facility consists of two buildings located on a steep site, which will be developed into a new technology and research park. Each building consists of a steel frame fixed to concrete piles/pads with an infill concrete slab. The main entrance is located to the east of each building. Also in the east are air-conditioned breakout spaces, office space for administration, meeting rooms, amenities and storage. To the north and west are the process plant halls, all of which have different requirements for humidity, temperature, ventilation and discharge control. To the south there is a continuous row of environmentally controlled research and testing laboratories for carbon fibre and precursor materials. These have been orientated to achieve an abundance of natural light without any direct heat loads.
Although the two building are similar in process they have quite different identities. The first, known as the “nj Building”, is long and linear in shape and measures approximately 2,771 sq m in Gross Floor Area (GFA). Its steel frame has been deliberately curved at the wall/roof junction allowing the same horizontal metal wall cladding to simply curve around a 1500 mm radius and become the roof material, providing a continuous and seamless junction. Precast concrete panels 7 m high located at either end of the linear plant hall are bolted back to the supporting steel frame. The panels are a dark charcoal colour and exhibit a striking hexagonal recessed pattern.
The second building known as the “nk Building” is by far the larger of the two, comprising 5,286 sq m GFA to house specialist equipment. While nj Building has no parapets, its larger counterpart has four plant halls that vary in height and have been broken up with a series of parapets. This series of shapes are wrapped with cladding which has been laid on a 45-degree angle to achieve an elongated appearance and curved with a 1200mm radius at each corner of the building to give the appearance of a continuous surface. This avoids the appearance of a standard warehouse box with a multitude of sharp corners and edges. Feature precast concrete panels are located along the central courtyard. Though lighter in colour than those at the nj Building, their surface pattern and fixing principles remain the same.
Pádraig Sinnott, Associate at GHDWoodhead in Victoria, says, “With world-class research and an attitude of creativity, the design allows for the generation of high-value ideas. The design supports the vision of AFFRIC to accelerate innovation as an interface between the industry and the research community.”