‘Ngoolark’ is the name given by the Noongar community and Elders in conjunction with Edith Cowan University, to ECU’s new Student Services Building B34 on its Joondalup Campus in Perth, Western Australia.
‘Ngoolark’, the Noongar name for the ‘endangered’ white tailed black cockatoo’, also known as Carnaby’s Cockatoo is an important and integral part of the design of this important infrastructure and civic building. This project has created a new, vast and sculptural place which connects numerous buildings and ‘paths’ through the University which during ECU’s significant recent growth, had been left disconnected.
‘Ngoolark’ represents a visionary investment in civic and university place making as well as architecture by ECU, which recognises that planning and development of the webs that link buildings together on university campuses are as important as the buildings themselves.
Located at the confluence of a number of important campus pedestrian paths, the site, a residual piece of land posed more of an obstacle between buildings than a connector and also formed a barrier to the connection of ECU’s primary administrative buildings (B1 & B2) and the rest of the campus. A major level difference was also a feature of the site which was previously a barrier but with the development of Ngoolark is now an important part of the project’s success.
‘Ngoolark’, composed of a vast forum and market level, a podium level and a six storey building at its core, creates two primary ground levels which together link the Library, B1 & B2, the Lecture Theatre, and the existing buildings to the east with all primary pedestrian links on the east, west, north and south. The whole project acts as a web with a vertical spine created by a lofty atrium located within the eastern portion of the building itself.
The central building, comprised of five levels with a major roof top plant level, has been designed as a simple, flexible and sustainable high quality office building with large floor footprints, excellent exposure to north and south light and exceptional views and a large column grid with minimised areas for services circulating vertically. With escape stairs and other amenities are located primarily on the west with a secondary staircase to the east. This base building provides exceptional office accommodation and sophisticated workplace environments on all levels with fresh open plans, collaborative work areas supported by shared meeting and project based zones, and breakout and social spaces.
While currently fitted out as primarily office space the building has been designed so that it is possible for it to be easily converted into classroom and teachings space throughout in the future to service changes which may be required as the University’s focus might evolve.
The current breakup of the building floor by floor sees Level 1 dedicated to the Student Services Centre and a public zone. Student Services functions as well as staff accommodation are also located on Level 2 (which is also a primary ground floor level) and on Level 3 along with the Graduate Research School and other office based services. Level 4 contains the whole IT Services group for the University (ITSC) and Level 5 contains CLD and RAMS office spaces as well as growth space for future development. Level 6 contains the primary plant room for the building with a secondary plant on Level 1.
In addition to the primary building, an independent end of journey bike parking and storage building is located to the south west between the existing Library and Ngoolark. A cafe pavilion is also located on the podium level and a structure to be used as a ‘pop up’ shop is located on Level 1 in the forum which has also been designed to accommodate a campus based market place in the future.
While the ‘office’ functions of the project are focused on the creation of flexible and high quality workplaces, it is the internal and external building elements which create a greater precinct which has transformed the student central hub of the Joondalup Campus as well as making a place richly bound to important connections and symbols of the local Noongar culture of the region.
Embedded within the fabric of the interior and exterior of the project are a number of themes which were developed and brought to life through consultation with ECU’s Cultural Liaison Officer from Kurrongkurl Katitjin and the local Noongar community.
The first relates to the golden folded perforated aluminum veil which is wrapped around the three upper levels of the building, the ceramic frit on the glazed facade and the bespoke carpet design through out the building – Ngoolark, the Carnaby’s Cockatoo.
The podium and forum paving embody the richness of the flow of water through a billabong creating eddies and also eroding rock as it rushes past stone surfaces.
‘Joondal’ the Noongar word which describes and on which the name Joondalup is based, has inspired the charcoal paving with its swirling white lines. Derived from an actual fluid dynamics study of the movement of water through these spaces, the white stone lines track the path of water as if a river coming from the west, eddies around the billabong that bellows out under the podium and ends it flow in Narla Karla (our fire/home) Reflection space which is located on the south.
‘Jindee’, the honey eater and the Noongar symbol for Mt Lawley where ECU’s second campus is located features in the white ceramic frit of the finely designed and ephemeral internal glazing facade of the atrium.
Suspended delicately within the atrium and seductively lit in spidery projected threads of light is Synapse a wonderful artwork and colloboration between Andrew Strumfel and Sohan Ariel Hayes.
Ngoolark has not just changed this entire precinct by creating a wonderful and integrally connected civic building and place but it has also changed how surrounding buildings and precincts operate and are used.
Edity Cowan University
Elisabetta Guj, Scott McConn, Will Thomson, Glenn Russell, Madeleine Hug, Clare Porter, Jason Welten, James Bolger, Eka Pujianto, Fionna Walker-Hart, Suzanne Morris, Brooke Randall, Rob Ramsay
Full architectural & Interior Design Services and Fit-out Coordination
Brian Yearwood, Edith Cowan University
Student Services (indoor/outdoor), Cafe, Pop up shop, Workplace accommodation, Guild facilities, Atrium, Meeting rooms, End of Journey facilities
Construction / Materials
Curtain double glazing, Perforated gold aluminium sunshading, frameless glass internal atrium facade, concrete framework - bubbledeck plus off form concrete, Alucobond, Metal deck roofing, syphonic drainage, timber and steel pan ceiling systems, concrete and timber stairs, brick and concrete paving and garden walls, carpet and vinyl floors, polished concrete and tiling, plasterboard and glazed partitions, steel framing and roof system.