Case Study: UTAS River’s Edge – Fielders’ Architectural Innovation Pioneers Campus Transformation

Sculpting the Campus of Tomorrow: Building 1 of River’s Edge

Innovative Cladding Defines New Era for the University of Tasmania

  • Project: UTAS River’s Edge, Building 1
  • Product: Fielders Structural Cladding, ARAMAX®
  • Area Covered: 2,500 m² of 1.20mm BMT
  • Material/Colour: Aluminium Mill Finish
  • Builder: Fairbrother Construction
  • Architect: Wardle Architects
  • Installer: Fairbrother Quoiba Division
  • Purlins: Crisp Bros Haywards
  • Duration: 29 months
  • Value: $45.2 million
  • Completion: June 2023

Set against the backdrop of Launceston’s historic Railway precinct, the River’s Edge project at the University of Tasmania stands as a striking symbol of educational and architectural evolution. As a focal point of a $304 million campus revitalisation, this innovative structure blends functionality with sustainability, setting the stage for the anticipated Building 2.

PROJECT BACKGROUND:

The UTAS River’s Edge project, influenced by the site’s context and history, is designed to reflect the community’s spirit and foster economic prosperity. Integrating contemporary design with the existing campus aesthetic presented unique challenges while supporting approximately 500 jobs and providing training opportunities for 74 apprentices. The project employed a modified Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to focus on materials’ whole-life embodied carbon. The use of lightweight, thin-profile ARAMAX® aluminium was pivotal due to its minimal upfront embodied carbon, durability, long spans, low maintenance, recyclability, and local procurement potential.

FIELDERS SOLUTION:

Fielders ARAMAX® Structural Cladding, renowned for its durability and bold aesthetic, was the ideal choice for this project. The aluminium mill finish reflects Tasmania’s ambient light, giving the building a distinctive sheen that complements its riverside location. Rolling the ARAMAX® sheets on-site facilitated local contracting and reduced the environmental impact of transport, aligning with sustainable construction practices.

PROJECT EXECUTION:

The implementation of ARAMAX® required innovative solutions to the site’s unique triangular shape and complex geometries, as elaborated by Wardle Architects. Adapting ARAMAX® cladding, typically used for roofing, as a façade element involved meticulous planning. The combination of Fairbrother Construction’s project management and meticulous product installation ensured the cladding met both structural and aesthetic requirements, contributing to the building’s reduced embodied carbon by minimising secondary structural framing.

OUTCOMES:

The impact of Fielders’ ARAMAX® on River’s Edge extends beyond aesthetics. It reinforces the university’s status as a benchmark for innovation and sustainability, echoing the Tasmanian Premier, Jeremy Rockliff’s accolade for the project’s “quiet pursuit of the extraordinary”. The building’s craftsmanship, supported by Fielders’ products, not only enhances the campus but also contributes to Launceston’s economic vitality. Notably, the building was constructed with 32.5 percent less embodied carbon than similar projects, setting a nationally recognised benchmark in low-carbon building. This achievement aligns with the University of Tasmania’s commitment to sustainability, showcasing a pivotal step towards more environmentally responsible construction practices.

LEARNINGS:

The UTAS River’s Edge project highlighted ARAMAX®’s versatility in unconventional applications, particularly as wall cladding rather than traditional roofing. Addressing the site’s complex geometry required innovative solutions, including full-scale prototypes and collaborative workshops with architects, engineers, and fabricators. These efforts were crucial in resolving intricate junction details to maintain structural integrity and meet design requirements.

Moreover, the vertical installation of thin, deep-profile ARAMAX® sheets posed challenges for structural stiffness and water egress, managed through detailed engineering collaborations. The project also navigated complex fire compliance issues, demanding extensive consultations among fire engineers, building surveyors, and architects to ensure safety alongside aesthetic fidelity.

These experiences have reinforced ARAMAX®’s capacity for large-scale architectural projects, driving its adoption in additional University of Tasmania developments and confirming its role in pushing the boundaries of architectural design and building compliance.

CONCLUSION:

At Fielders, the UTAS River’s Edge is a testament to our commitment to delivering architectural solutions that merge sustainability with dynamic design. This project lays the groundwork for the continued transformation of the UTAS campus, with Building 2 anticipated to further this legacy.

For more details on how to specify our innovative solutions, visit Fielders ARAMAX®

ARAMAX® cladding systems were supplied by Lysaght TAS, acting as an agent for Fielders, contributing to the creation of a functional architectural statement at the University of Tasmania.