Norman Disney & Young (NDY) a Tetra Tech company, was engaged by Lyons Architects and Murdoch University to deliver core building and specialist engineering services designs for the Boola Katitjin Building. The company’s scope included a sweeping range of services across the entire design including Electrical, Mechanical, Fire Protection, Fire Engineering, Hydraulics, Audio Visual, Communications, Security, Acoustics, Vertical Transportation, Bushfire assessment, Sustainability, and a Microclimate study including wind modelling.
“Sustainability was a key focus for the Murdoch University and the NDY team – Boola Katitjin is designed to achieve a 6 Star Green Star Design and As-Built v1.3 rating demonstrating leadership in sustainability on an international scale,” said Associate Director, Renee Fourie. “Wind microclimate and thermal comfort studies informed the architectural and mechanical design and enabled the use of mixed mode ventilation to select areas of the project that can operate in natural ventilation for 40% of the year, significantly reducing energy consumption and enhancing the indoor environmental quality.”
NDY has worked closely with the architect and façade consultant, through an iterative modelling process, to ensure the building’s architecture will passively control solar gains to minimise cooling energy and enhance thermal comfort, incorporating deep eaves to the north, vertical fins to the southern façade, and horizontal fins to the eastern and
Additionally, the Boola Katitjin structure is the largest mass engineered timber building in Western Australia. Glue laminated and cross laminated timber is a building material produced by glue-laminating planks of timber together and layering them to form a rigid, multi-layered panel. It can be used in building construction to form slabs, walls, and roofs
“Mass timber construction not only reduces new carbon emissions entering the atmosphere but sequesters carbon from the atmosphere as it grows,” said Renee. “The overall carbon reduction achieved for Boola Katitjin is world leading.”
Mass Timber is becoming an increasingly popular building material for several reasons. Pre-fabricating mass timber panels can provide an advantage over concrete construction due to shorter construction time, more consistent quality and easier maintenance.
The primary purpose of the project is to provide Murdoch University with state-of-the-art contemporary learning spaces, and NDY were tasked with ensuring the acoustics met the teaching and learning needs of each space, while the lighting created the right feel for specific areas, and the audio visual pedagogy enabled a digital transformation experience for students and lecturers.
“The lack of suspended ceilings created some challenges for acoustics and lighting,” said Renee. “We needed to ensure that these systems did not distract from the timber, but rather enhance each space.”
NDY designed a raised access floor with a deep cavity to improve the acoustic privacy between levels of the building. The floor cavity was also used for an under-floor air conditioning system, which reduced the amount of services exposed in the open ceilings.
“Using the raised floor cavity for ventilation also helped reduce ambient noise levels,”
said Renee. “The raised floor panels are relatively heavy and block noise from the ducts below which helps quieten the air conditioning system.”
The timber was left exposed on the underside of the high ceilings to reveal the natural materials of the fitout. This exposed timber was partially treated with acoustic panels to absorb sound and reduce the reverberation.
“The combination of these solutions – an access floor, under-floor ventilation, and acoustic panels under the timber beams – came together to deliver all the benefits of a conventional tiled ceiling while allowing the desired architectural outcome,” said Renee.
Founded in 1959, NDY provides sustainable engineering solutions that improve the value, reliability and efficiency of projects and the broader built environment. NDY has offices across Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Canada.