The Cairns Institute, JCU

CWA were recently engaged in the final shortlist as one of three companies for a national competition to design the new home for The Cairns Institute at the James Cook University. The design centred on producing an integrated tropical design which made the most of the natural amenity of the region as well as creating a collaborative and active learning community within.

The teaching and workspace components of the brief were literally stacked on top of each other, producing and active and open ground plane and a more private workplace environment above. These spaces were then wrapped around a central community atrium forum, bringing natural light deep within the building, connecting the upper levels and ground floor together and producing a civic space for everyone to meet. The upper level workspaces were designed as a continuous and collaborative learning environment with student and teaching spaces spilling into each other. The ground floor plane with operable walls and glazed opening were designed to allow teaching to spill into the central forum and spill out into the external landscape.

The internal forum as well as acting as collaborative meeting space also acts as the buildings lungs. During the more temperate times of the year, natural air is sucked via the stack effect through the buildings louvered facade and up and out the central forum. During the more extreme temperature bands the building is shut down and run on a low energy, individually zoned air-conditioning system.