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The Menzies School of Health Research at Charles Darwin University incorporates an innovative approach to thermal comfort and tropical design.

The director of Menzies School of Health Research had a clear vision when he approached Hames Sharley to design a new building for the organisation.

The new building had to be iconic, and make a statement that the Indigenous and tropical health research institution of 30 years has come of age, and was very much part of the 21st century.

It also had to be designed to suit the tropical environment in the top end, and be open and light, with bright colours in general areas.

Hames Sharley’s highly skilled and dedicated team has delivered a spectacular project that not only fulfilled the client’s needs and design brief but exceeded it.
The analogy of a tree with spreading shade was used in discussions with stakeholders to develop an appropriate design language.

This concept was taken from traditional practice in regional Indigenous communities, where senior members would sit nearest the trunk within the deepest shade while younger members would sit on the edge, listening to stories. 

The interiors are designed with colours, patterns and themes inspired by the local regions and culture, using an eclectic mix of interesting patterns and colour schemes.

Keeping the building to two storeys respects the human scale, and significantly reduces costs for construction, structure and fire protection.

High ceilings are combined with low-turbulence ceiling fans throughout, which
creates comfortable conditions at higher air temperatures and reduces energy consumption.

The fans operate at low speed and provide high airflow for cooling with low turbulence and minimal wind noise.

Floor-to-ceiling glass maximises daylight penetration and external views, with deep eaves preventing solar gain and protecting the windows.

PROJECT PROFILE

Menzies School of Health Research

ARCHITECT | Hames Sharley
BUILDER | Lahey Constructions
BRIEF | To create a new building for the Menzies School of Health Research that was innovative in design, and paid respect to the regional Indigenous communities it represents.
FEATURES | Teaching facilities, clinical space,
conference rooms, and office space for 180 institute
and university staff.
BUILD TIME | 19 months
LOCATION | Charles Darwin University, Casuarina, Northern Territory

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