Russell Yelland

UniSA Building V: Mawson Institute

Completed: 2011
Client: University of South Australia
Awards:5 Star Educational Green Star rating, Green Building Council of Australia, 2011
AIA (SA) Award for Sustainable Architecture, 2010

Industry has played a pivotal, long-term role in the economy and identity of Adelaide’s northern suburbs. And with the downturn and eventual closure of the automotive industry in the area, UniSA’s leading role in advanced manufacturing research has never been more important.

Building V was the first laboratory-intensive building to achieve a 5 Star Green Star Education rating in South Australia. It was also Russell and Yelland’s fourth Mawson Lakes education project to be delivered in association with Canberra firm, Guida Moseley Brown Architects (GMB).

What we did: University development
New build
Design collaboration
University Research laboratories
Industry incubator

The design of Building V promotes innovation via interaction between the Mawson Institute’s various advanced manufacturing and research groups. As a pre-commercial incubator, it was important for the various laboratories on site to sit alongside offices where researchers, administration staff and visiting academics from various disciplines could collaborate on projects of real-world application.

Concentrated research at the facility has spanned various technologies, from stem cell therapy to plasma coating and the development of virtual environments.

Two near-parallel, linear wings house a modular bank of laboratories to the north and offices to the south on the ground level. The linking area between the wings is a central meeting and circulation space, quite literally bringing the various disciplines together. A green wall shields external services for the laboratories, which can be easily accessed, but steal no room from the internal working footprint.

Once considered the rear of the UniSA Mawson Lakes site, a road installed to the north east was enough to shift the university’s perspective on the need for a landmark on the new approach. The building stands in sharp relief against the wetland corridor, its periscope second floor management offices cantilevered above staff BBQ areas and the surrounding landscape.


With Guida Moseley Brown taking the lead on the design, Russell & Yelland supported much of the documentation for the project, including all Green Star compliance, and extensive consultation with stakeholders during briefing and construction.


Photography credits:John Gollings
Steve Rendoulis