The Science and Engineering Building


Science and Engineering Building

As Australia’s global university, UNSW aims to improve and transform lives through excellence in research, outstanding education and a commitment to advancing a just society. As part of the University's Strategy 2025, UNSW aspires to be a top 50 global ranking university by 2025. 

UNSW significantly invested in developing the new Science and Engineering Building (SEB) to attract the best researchers to UNSW, by offering world-class infrastructure to support ground-breaking research.

The SEB is now equipped with the best facilities for research in the Schools of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering as well as new facilities for the School of the Arts & Media for research and teaching in the creative and performing arts. 

Esme Timberey Creative Practice Lab

The Esme Timbery Creative Practice Lab includes an outdoor theatre overlooking Alumni Park, as well as state-of-the-art sound engineering in the Io Myers Studio and Studio One theatres.

Grimshaw Architects designed the Science and Engineering Building to follow the architectural design of the adjacent Materials Science and Engineering Building, completed in 2015. 

Science and Engineering Building

The Materials Science and Engineering Building was renamed the Hilmer Building in honour of former President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer (2006-2015). 

The strong focus on science and engineering in this pair of buildings is strengthened by bridge links on each floor, such that science and engineering researchers can move easily between the SEB and the Hilmer facilitating greater collaboration.

Science and Engineering Building

Together, the Science and Engineering Building and the Hilmer make a striking, visual statement about the kind of world-leading research that will be taking place on campus.

From top to bottom, Level 8 is dedicated to the services plant which supports the building functions. Levels 6-7 are dedicated to the School of Chemistry, which includes research in medicinal chemistry; nanoscience, molecular photonics, and exciton science. The Centre for Advanced Macromolecular Design (CAMD) and the Lower Campus Precinct Store are also on these floors.

Science and Engineering Building laboratory

Levels 1–5 are dedicated to the School of Chemical Engineering, which includes research in energy; environmental engineering; food and health; medical science and technology; macromolecular and interfacial engineering; and advanced product and process engineering.

Science and Engineering Building

The basement and ground floors feature the Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre (MWAC), new learning environments and the Esme Timbery Creative Practice Lab including the Io Myers Studio, and Studio One theatres. 

Named after famous shellworker, Bidjigal elder and senior artist from the La Perouse Aboriginal community, Esme Timbery, the new Creative Practice Lab signals a major investment in the future of research and teaching in theatre, performance, film and media at UNSW. 

Esme Timberey Creative Practice Lab

The innovative, new, theatre space uses “active architecture,” which is a system of computer-controlled amplification that enables the user to create the perfect sound environment where both acoustic music performance and spoken word theatre can flourish. 

Esme Timberey Creative Practice Lab

The walls of the performance space are also “active” in that they allow the placement of a variety of materials such as paint, hooks, ropes, and paper to create and recreate scenes. They are also soundproof and have improved disability access. including hearing augmentation in both theatres.


With these new spaces, the School of the Arts and Media will be able to expand and grow, especially as the creative arts is an important expression of our humanity through music and drama, jazz concerts, screenings, and other public performances.

Esme Timberey Creative Practice Lab

The podium and steps create an outdoor amphitheater, which further enhances the possibility for public performance and adds to the overall campus experience. 

Esme Timberey Creative Practice Lab

The project was a huge 24,500 square metres and designed to to support and attract world-leading researchers by providing state-of-the-art facilities with some spaces ready for use, and some laboratory shells ready to adapt to suit the changing needs in the decades to come. 

Science and Engineering Building

Designed to cater to allow for future innovation and adaptation according to future research needs, the original design included 39 ‘shell’ laboratories for special fit-out as research needs change over time. When the SEB was completed.18 were fit-out for key researchers including Dr Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh, Professor Chris Turney and Sir Fraser Stoddart, leaving 21 laboratory shells for future customised fit-outs. 


To support UNSW's scientific research and discovery ambitions, the SEB features PC2 labs, high pressure synthetic and analytical labs, furnace lab, laser lab, microscope lab, high-intensity wet labs, a microscopy lab, and many others. Level 5 has been designed with enhanced vibration resistance, incorporating a 500mm thick suspended slab throughout.

Science and Engineering Building

All new teaching laboratories, lecture theatres, class-rooms and break-out spaces were designed for contemporary collaborative and interactive teaching models.

2020 NSW Architecture Awards - Urban Design award.

2019 Excellence in Construction MBA Award under the Tertiary Buildings $100m and over category. 

Science and Engineering Building

Development: UNSW Estate Management 

Project Manager: Capital Insight

Architects: Grimshaw and HDR

Contractor: Multiplex

Photographer: John Gollings and Multiplex 

Completed: 2015 - 2019 

Science and Engineering Building