Down Under Louvers
by Leigh Christy
While architects in the Northern Hemisphere have been appropriately fixated on manipulating southern orientations of buildings in pursuit of climate-responsive architecture, those "Down Under" have been giving the same attention to north-facing facades.
In the new Business School for Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in New Zealand, the architecture firm JASMAX has designed a northwest facade that puts on a visual show in response to the daily sun path.
The building demonstrates that when sustainable methods are integrated early in the process, the result can win awards for design excellence as well as for being "green." The New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) recently awarded the building its highest honor, the NZIA Resene Supreme Award for Architecture.
Completed in July 2005, the 114,000-square-foot (10,600-square-meter) building is 10 stories high, with a public entry and cafe on the ground floor, classrooms on the next six floors, and offices on the top three. According to JASMAX project director Euan Mac Kellar, a less tangible part of the program was that the building should serve as a gateway between central city of Auckland and the AUT campus, ensuring that citizens could use campus facilities while the students enjoyed exposure to the local business community.
Having completed several projects on campus, JASMAX was already familiar with the university's attitude toward such integration. "AUT wants its campus to be part of the city and not to be seen as an ivory tower," notes Mac Kellar.
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The new Auckland University of Technology Business School, designed by the architecture firm JASMAX.
Photo: Vincent Kar
"Feathered" panels on the northwest facade of AUT's Business School.
Photo: Vincent Kar
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