Susan Wakil Health Building, University of Sydney

  • 2021

  • Architectural
    Architectual Design

Commissioned By:

University of Sydney

Designed In:


The Susan Wakil Health Building at the University of Sydney is a state-of-the-art facility at the forefront of innovation, learning, and policy for the future of healthcare education and research. This building is a 3-dimensional network of open spaces for the University, fostering both educational collaboration and physical health.

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Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Brett Boardman
Image: University of Sydney
Image: University of Sydney
Image: Brett Boardman
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  • The building is the response to an iterative design process, and workshops with the design review panel and key building users to create a student centric education model that emphasises creation and collaboration. The design creates a new common ground for the University, the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and the Charles Perkins Centre, while respecting the site's historic significance as a meeting place. This building is a place of collaborative research, with agile environments for multidisciplinary teaching and learning across all health disciplines. The design for the University of Sydney will inspire the next generation of leaders in their field.

  • Conceived as a total health environment, this building engages mind and body. The design delivers abundant light and ventilation, active spaces, spaces of social gathering, and quiet reflective spaces that promote meaningful interactions and furthered learning. Central to the design philosophy, and the building itself, is its "cleave" - a carved out section of the building which steps back into the form as it travels up. This feature of the building form not only draws natural light within each level, but also connects those levels through stairways which promote active circulation measures such as walking instead of taking an elevator.

  • The Susan Wakil Health Building embodies evidence-based design to ensure a positive social, economic, and environmental impact. Drawing on the principles of designing with nature the Building utilises natural light and expansive views over the University to encourage healthy circadian rhythms and total wellbeing. Utilising active design principles throughout the interior and exterior. the building promotes constant circulation and movement, inducing active engagement and collaboration across the education and research facilities. By controlling the flow of natural ventilation through the cleave spaces, the building can purge at night, conserving energy use. This promotes a positive relationship with the external environment.

  • Through rigorous dedication throughout the design process, the Susan Wakil Health Building is an extension of Sydney University's landscape, informed by history, topography, and purpose. Located at the intersection of two historically significant waterways for the Gadigal people, the Building was designed as an extension of the landscape, embodying the University's Wingara Mura design principles. The connection to the land was achieved by creating a floating ground plane tying the building to the historic campus landscape and natural surrounds. The upper building volumes appear to float, lift, and be shaped by the flow, with external stairs welcoming visitors on both sides, simultaneously fostering a connection to site. Directed by the principles of designing with nature: light, views and ventilation this building embodies a healthy workplace and a learning place of the future. Purposeful design allows for visual transparency across the facilities and encourages active circulation and socialisation. The building promotes a biophilic relationship with the outdoors, featuring spaces with clear views of the gardens and landscape beyond. To preserve the spectacular vistas over the university campus and towards the city skyline, workstations were kept clear of the façade in the upper workspace levels to maximise light and views.