Advanced Engineering Building

The University of Queensland’s Engineering Faculty wanted a building that would encourage teachers, students and research staff to work across disciplines to solve complex problems. They also wanted a place that would set UQ apart and boost its global engineering status.

We gave the university a building that’s a cutting-edge, sustainable engineering learning tool. We included a range of ground-breaking features to create an open, collaborative learning environment built around an atrium allowing students to access all levels and to interact and collaborate with staff, researchers and visitors.

The innovative design puts the structure of the building on show, giving students a live learning’ environment.

We deliberately exposed concrete, steel and timber components, and the structural loads and stresses can also be monitored in real time.

The AEB makes the most of the unique sub-tropical Queensland climate to be as energy and water efficient as possible. Features include systems to pre-cool the building’s air, multi-mode ventilation systems and extensive external shading. The building displays its self-managed energy output, water consumption and waste production on screens around the building.

Our use of local mixed hardwoods underpinned our sustainability initiatives and led to the most striking feature of the building – the auditorium’s exposed 220-tonne timber truss roof. Using timber instead of steel was an ambitious move that created an ambient, acoustically-sound environment to further transform the student learning experience.


University of Queensland


Brisbane, Australia








Richard Kirk Architect

Design team

Mark Loughnan, Mark Roehrs, Mark Craig, Peter Hastings, Joe Soares, Daniel Loo, Alison Hortz, Catherine Van Der Heide, Troy King, BP Loh, George Taran, Nguyen Luu, Mac Young, Fraser Shiers, Cheong Kuen, Amy Carrick, Greg Allis


Peter Bennetts


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A facility such as the AEB sends a statement about our ambition, about our desire to maintain a leading position in engineering.”

Professor Simon Biggs Executive Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, University of Queensland
220 tonne timber truss roof for the auditorium
100 kW solar photovoltaic system to reduce the building’s carbon footprint
40% less energy used

The AEB is designed to reduce annual energy consumption by more than 40 percent compared to the rest of the campus, mainly through simple systems such as:

  • Solar shading
  • Cross-ventilation via atrium windows and louvres that can be opened
  • Use of the atrium as a chimney’ to exhaust hot air
  • Ceiling fans
  • Controlled daylight

More sophisticated, high-tech systems enhancing sustainability include:

  • High-performance solar glazing
  • A thermal labyrinth in the subterranean perimeter basement walls
  • Computer-controlled mechanical shading to the atrium roof 
  • Mixed-mode air conditioning outlets at all workstations, individually operated during extreme conditions

Our team also limited the building’s carbon footprint by using renewable materials wherever possible.

  • 2014 National Sir Zelman Cowen Award - Public Architecture
  • 2014 RAIA National Emil Sodersten Award - Interior Architecture
  • 2014 RAIA National Award - Sustainable Architecture
  • 2014 RAIA State F.D.G Stanley Award - Public Architecture
  • 2014 RAIA State G.H.M Addison Award - Interior Architecture
  • 2014 RAIA State Harry Marks Award - Sustainable Architecture
  • 2014 RAIA John Dalton Award - Building of the Year
  • 2014 RAIA Regional Commendation Award - Interior Architecture
  • 2014 RAIA Regional Commendation -Public Architecture
  • 2014 Australian Timber Design Awards - Excellence in the Use of Timber Products – Engineered Timber 
  • 2014 Australian Timber Design Awards - Excellence in the Use of Timber Products – Recycled Timber

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