From loading dock to quirky lounge: Building 15’s transformation continues
- Building 15’s loading dock becomes a homey student hang-out
- Main Harris St entry upgraded for accessibility, with a new lift to service all floors
- The building accommodates UTS Start-ups, UTS Animal Logic Academy and the Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation
Haymarket precinct’s Building 15, down on the corner of Harris St and Mary Anne St, might lack the effortless glamour of its next-door neighbour – the iconic UTS Business School building – but an underutilised loading dock reimagined as a student hang-out is boosting its old school cool.
The mid-century building previously accommodated the National Cash Register Company and, more recently, TAFE signwriting students. Since 2015, UTS has been progressively refurbishing the building as befits a ‘knowledge hub’ that accommodates UTS Startups, the UTS Animal Logic Academy and the Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation’s Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation program.
While reminders of Building 15’s signwriting past remain, along with many of its heritage features, it is steadily becoming more student-friendly and accessible. The ground floor, level 2, is also lighter and brighter, thanks to the creative reinvention of the old loading dock, where aluminium-framed sectional glass has replaced a solid steel roller door.
Not only has it flooded the interior with light and introduced a sense of transparency to the building, the wide span of glass has created a visual connection between squat, sturdy Building 15 and the soaring, sensual curves of the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building on the other side of Omnibus Lane.
Beyond the new glazed door, the fun and funky ‘loading dock lounge’ provides an ideally located break-out space, suitable for small groups and informal one-on-one conversations away from more structured work and study environments.
Architect George Scoufis, Director of Burtenshaw Scoufis Architecture + Interiors, which created the new student space, is no stranger to Building 15, having also designed the adjacent workspaces that now accommodate UTS Start-ups (previously the Hatchery).
“The informal nature of the loading dock lounge serves as a good appendage to the already buzzy and highly flexible adjacent spaces that accommodate UTS Startups,” George explains.
“Design cues were taken from the building’s heritage and the existing rather rough-and-ready aesthetic, which harks back to the building’s industrial past. Raw concrete, as well as recycled hardwood timbers for wall panels and joinery, were chosen to complement this aesthetic.
“The approach on this project was to use materials and finishes in a very limited way,” he adds. “This way we could meet the brief and maintain the richness of the existing fabric.”
To accommodate groups ranging from two people to 15 or 20, the lounge features clusters of two or three seats around small tables. These make for intimate settings for one-on-one and small-group meetings, while tiered concrete steps added at one end of the loading dock act as additional seating for larger groups.
Building 15 is also becoming steadily more accessible. Following completion of an accessible entry from Mary Anne St and the replacement of the eastern (Omnibus Lane) lifts in 2016, the western entry is now being upgraded. The newly accessible Harris St entry now provides an easy pathway through the building to UTS Startups, while a new lift – expected to be completed by September – will service all floors. A 'meet and greet' area to welcome industry partners is also in the works.
What’s next for Building 15? Watch this space, and in the meantime, take the time to drop in on Building 15 the next time you’re in the Haymarket precinct. Its transformation might just surprise you.