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CSIRO CMIT North Ryde

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Brewster Hjorth Architects were engaged by CSIRO Corporate Property, a Commonwealth Government body to provide a full Project Design Consultancy service for the new CMIT Campus at the Riverside Corporate Park on the site of the old CSIRO establishment at North Ryde, Sydney.

CMIT provides Commercial Industry support services and research development services to the Australian Building and Construction Industry through the various research and testing facilities on site. The Campus is a highly secure environment (Level 3) to protect valuable commercial product and research knowledge. Construction is Australia’s second largest industry and product testing is at the core of future industry development.

The site incorporates the facilities of the older Experimental Building Station and integrates other construction related Research Divisions. It was a requirement of the project that the existing testing facility remain operational throughout the project.


Project Description
The CMIT Campus covers total site area of 16,500m2 and includes 9 new buildings with a total area of approximately 12500m2. 
The buildings include:

  • Large central administration with meeting and conference facilities 
  • Sprinkler and Fire Testing 
  • Hydraulics and Facades Research Testing Laboratories 
  • Structural Fire Testing Laboratories
  • Construction Materials Research and Testing Facility Support and Infrastructure Services
  • Reaction to Fire Research and Testing Facility 

Some of the important research work undertaken includes testing materials under fire. Unique very large one-off gas fired furnaces were designed and constructed for the project by the BHA design team, the smoke generated by the furnaces is captured and processed by complex bespoke Pollution Control Equipment also designed by our team costing over $3.0m


Project Staging
The project was constructed in 3 stages, on an operating site. The design and construction work required a detailed staging and decanting strategy which was developed by Brewster Hjorth with CSIRO Corporate Property as part of of the Project Design.


BHA’s Role

Brewster Hjorth were engaged as the Primary Design Consultant with a full service role extending  from the preparation of the Project Brief through all design and documentation stages to Contract Administration as Superintendent for the Construction Phase. Our Design Team included all engineering specialist sub consultants.


Site Contamination
The site was classed as highly contaminated and required remediation prior to any development proceeding. Contamination included asbestos in existing buildings asbestos fragments and benzine and other chemicals from previous fuel storage areas.
Unique Project OutcomesThe project typology is unique by international standards, being one of only four similar establishments in the world, its design demanded unique and innovative solutions. Some of the particular issues encountered included:

  • The need to separate CSIRO research from commercial research while maintaining a highly secure environment to both;
  • A requirement for particularly high levels of Pollution Control to particulate matter from exhausts given the urban nature of the site and its location adjacent other sensitive IT/research establishments (Microsoft etc.);
  • The need to develop a unique building for testing safety of Life issues in structures. The unusual pyramid shaped structure is the only such building in the world; and
  • A requirement to satisfy the complex and often partially contradictory requirements of 4 different CSIRO research groups as well as a range of corporate CSIRO needs which were often at odds with scientific requirements.


Innovative Design Solutions
The unique nature of the project demanded innovation in design. It was intended that the facility compete world wide for international product testing as a revenue generation method for CSIRO, in order to achieve this we needed to provide more efficient facilities at less cost than international competitors in the USA and Europe.

The key to our innovation on this project rested with our basic site planning, separating Safety of Life (SAFE) and Reaction to Fire testing facilities to reduce cost and allow overlap of testing while still utilising the same pollution control equipment for both elements.

The approach generated by our team resulted in a far more efficient facility in operational terms and a less expensive build cost.

physical size: .
cost: $.
completed: . 2003

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