Renovate don’t detonate: the UNSW Electrical Engineering Building

Five years ago, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Electrical Engineering Building was at a crossroads.

Located on the Kensington Campus and dating back to the 1960s, it is the original home of one of Australia’s most successful engineering schools.

While the building had solid bones and provided a sense of cultural nostalgia to the campus, it had effectively reached its use-by-date. The needs of 21st century teaching and research methods had evolved beyond what the building could support. 

In order to continue attracting and securing top academic minds, the school needed to elevate it’s brand. It needed an environment that represents a forward thinking global school.

To renovate or to detonate? That was the stark choice faced by UNSW. 


January 20, 2020


Brett Boardman

Through a process of careful collaboration and the trusting relationship between Hassell, the University of NSW, and the end-users, the $104 million project is complete, with the building given a major refurbishment.

The EEB now welcomes the next generation of engineers to a healthier, more sustainable building. This includes an additional 10% floor area efficiency, reduced environmental footprint, enhanced natural daylight, renewable energy generation, and an extended 40-year building life. 

Through a series of careful interventions, the building has a new dialogue with the surrounding campus. Visibility into student spaces, teaching and research spaces gives the building identity; one which will be carried forward for the next generation of engineers.

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