Mix and match: an Australian university combines workspace and art

Wsu Chancellery
A brand new space has been inaugurated at the Western Sydney University. Combining office, gallery and meeting space, the interior was designed by architecture firm Allen Jack + Cottier
(Image credit: Prue Ruscoe)

The Western Sydney University (WSU) has just got a new office, gallery and meeting space in the shape of the Chancellery fit-out by Australian architects Allen Jack + Cottier. 

The Sydney based architecture firm was called upon to work on this project – the redesign of an existing space within the university’s Parramatta campus – which would become one of the institution’s key centres. 

'Our starting point with good workplace design is that it has to work at a practical level, whilst reflecting the vision and aspiration of our client,' says Allen Jack + Cottier’s Scott Norton. 'In this case, we were very fortunate that the Vice Chancellor clearly understood the value of good design.'

Warm timber, sourced locally, and the design’s clean, modern lines are matched by artworks and furniture, selected especially for this space. The program spans a whole floor within its building. 

The project was not without its challenges. The architects had to work with relatively low ceiling heights that couldn’t be changed, but they managed to create a bright and inviting space thanks to a carefully calculated balance of natural and artificial light.

The program was also relatively unusual. It blends public areas – such as the gallery, where Western Sydney University’s collection of artworks and art gifts from other universities and institutions are displayed – with more private sections, such as the school’s administrative offices. 

An undulating timber wall successfully divides the two areas. Differences in materials and colour palette create a further distinction. 

Still, there is a clear unified approach in this project that combines workspaces with art display and public meeting areas. Matt finishes and natural materials ensure a warm and welcoming space throughout, for students and employees alike.

The chancellery

The project involved the redesign of a whole floor in an existing building at the university's Parramatta campus

(Image credit: Prue Ruscoe)

The Chancellery WSU

The original space was dark and features low ceilings that couldn't be changed. The architects created a light filled space through a careful balance of natural and artificial lighting

(Image credit: Prue Ruscoe)

The Wsu Chancellery

The brief combined workspaces - some of the university's administrative offices are based in this building - with art display. This is where Western Sydney University’s collection of artworks and gifts from other universities and institutions are displayed

(Image credit: Prue Ruscoe)

Wsu Chancellery at Australia

Differences in materials and colour palette create a further distinction between the project's functions

(Image credit: Prue Ruscoe)


For more information on Allen Jack + Cottier visit the website

Photography: Prue Ruscoe

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).