The IMAS EDGE: reflecting the past, researching the future

Structural glazing delivers MAX™ appeal

When the University of Tasmania sought to build a new home for the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), an organisation that aspires to be “a leading global institution for temperate marine, Southern Ocean and Antarctic research”, they wanted a structure reflective of the cutting-edge science being conducted inside. They also wanted energy efficiency, natural ventilation and sustainable features to ensure the building operation serves its community rather than draining resources.

A project by John Wardle Architects in association with Terroir Architects, IMAS officially opened in January 2014 on Hobart’s waterfront. The building is practical and inspirational. It invites public engagement. Referred to as “science in the shed”, due to the design of the building emulating the neighbouring wharf structures, IMAS blends perfectly with its surroundings and yet it stands out as completely unique. The glass façade facing the harbour reflects back the colour and energy of surrounding buildings, boats, docks and people, symbolically reflecting the history of the area and its maritime uses.

The building earned a 5 Star Green Star classification. Some of the features contributing to this rating include:

  • external louvres provide solar control from the afternoon west sun
  • heating and cooling the building with water drawn from the Derwent River
  • IGUs with Low E reduce glare and thermal transfer, reducing the demand on heating and cooling equipment
  • operable awning windows provide mixed mode natural ventilation
  • operable perforated aluminium panels installed for solar and visual control
  • louvers and breathable facades provide ventilation while the glass offers light and thermal management

Structural glazing, operable awning windows

To achieve the dynamic reflective façade and thermal performance, project fabricator Commercial Windows and Doors (CWD) in Hobart chose a MAX™ structurally glazed system from EDGE Architectural, a division of Aluminium Industries.

Rod Betts from CWD travelled to Melbourne to train on the system with experts from 3M in the Aluminium Industries factory. The 3M VHB tape has been used in the cladding industry for years, but has not enjoyed wide-spread adoption in the Australian glazing industry. EDGE Architectural offers Australia’s first system purposed designed for the tape.
“Ninety per cent of the building was done in our factory,” said Leigh Mitchell of CWD. “It made the whole thing really flexible.”

The CWD team was so impressed with the ease of glazing the MAX™ system with the VHB tape, they created a video of putting the factory glazed windows in place on the construction site.

Operable awning windows are controlled by an automated system and deliver natural ventilation.

To maintain uniformity and balance to the eye, the window frames were powder coated to match the zinc façade. The inclusion of IMAS on the Hobart Harbour is impactful with interesting structural elements, shapes and textures. The architect had a clear vision of how he wanted the building to look. He worked with Rod Beel, Aluminium Industries R&D Systems Manager, to incorporate sun shade fins within the EDGE Architectural frames. In addition to improving the energy performance of the building, they create a dramatic entrance to the building.

IMAS is a 7,130m2 facility hosting scientific leaders from IMAS and researchers from the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) and Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems. The building includes five purpose-built, state-of-the-art laboratories, a large public exhibition area, boardroom and 92 seat lecture theatre. It has the capacity to for approximately 250 research staff and students.

With all these features complemented by the Hobart waterside setting, IMAS is expected to rival international research Institutes.