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Sydney West Trial Courts

contributed by 323 World Architecture Festival , 21 May 2009


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Description Sydney West Trial Courts:

The design for this new Trial Courts Building in Sydney’s Parramatta is based on a holistic approach to the integration of functional court planning, high level public amenity, and responsible environmental design for a major new public building.
The project comprises nine new criminal/jury courtrooms and includes a high risk court. It has five separate and secure circulation systems for judges, juries, custody and the public.

A contemporary identity for the building is achieved through its distinctive external envelope, which literally frames and makes transparent the functions of the Court. This framing idea also expresses the concept of a unified and singular organisation within the new building.

The design strategy in response to these objectives begins with a simple environmental diagram. This proposes predominantly solid walls to the east west orientation and transparent walls to the north and south.

The architectural effect is a high level of transparency to the north and south walls, thereby activating both views into and out from the Trial Courts Building. In particular, the transparent south facade facing the entry forecourt creates a dignified and accessible entry experience through its sense of visual accessibility and transparency.

The key elements of the Trial Courts which benefit most from light and aspect have been located adjacent to the north and south glazing. These areas include the Courts, public waiting areas and jury rooms. Windows to the east and west solid walls provide further light and views to the jury areas and public spaces.

This concept is made more expressive by articulating other key parts of the program including the Judges levels and the double height entry foyer. At this point the wrapping skin creates a major canopy over the front entry, thereby heightening the sense of accessibility and wayfinding.

The external solid cladding is literally like a frame to the building, to the entry, and to the primary functions within the court facility. In doing this it creates a contemporary, dignified and accessible identity for the new Trial Courts.

The double height transparent glass walls to the main entry space lead visitors directly into the primary orientation space and to the primary security point.

This leads to a further sequence of interior public spaces which extend the design philosophy of light and openness. At each of the main court levels, the public foyers and waiting areas have extensive natural light and views, together with a natural ventilation system.

Photograph: John Gollings


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Parramatta, Australia

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