The STEMM Facility

We are excited to reveal the concept design for a new STEMM facility at Callaghan; a flagship building in our STEMM precinct. This building symbolises how we are fundamentally changing the way our students, researchers and industry collaborators will work and learn together, as they pursue meaningful solutions to problems of local and global significance.

The building will facilitate greater collaboration in the STEMM fields, offering highly adaptable research laboratories, formal and informal learning spaces, and collaboration spaces. We are also demonstrating our commitment to environmental sustainability, by targeting a world-leading green star rating through the design and build. The building has received SSDA approval through the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment (DPIE).

The building will be situated where the first ever University of Newcastle building, McMullin, currently stands. It will act as an agent of change, physically and conceptually, signalling a future centred on connectivity and engagement.

Video: Unveiling the future of STEMM at the University of Newcastle

Media gallery

Facts and figures

Principal Design Consultant

  • Lyons, in partnership with local firm EJE Architects.
  • Lyons and EJE also partnered with us to deliver the iconic, award-winning NUspace building in Newcastle’s CBD.

Design principals

  • A showcase, transparent, blended, outward looking, adaptable, integrated, sustainable.

Size and load

  • Four storeys
  • Height: 24.5m
  • 71x71m, with a gross floor area of 16,380m2
  • Usable floor area: 12,140m
  • Maximum occupancy: around 2300 people (staff, students, visitors) when all large spaces are being utilised

Built form

  • A square plan, with very large and adaptable floorplates.
  • A lower scale but large horizontal building, which maximises interconnectivity and collaboration.
  • A hybrid structural system with two main components; an engineered timber structure, and post-tensioned concrete. This allows multiple building uses within one facility – an aesthetically warm and sustainable work and learning place (timber), and a stable slab for ‘wet’ research, inclusive of vibration-controlled environments (concrete).
  • The exterior wall of glass is shaded by a lattice structure, comprised of coloured aluminum vertical and horizontal fins, which reflect the colour palette of the surrounding spotted gum trees.
  • The ground floor, and levels one and two, contain a combination of interaction space, teaching and learning space, research space, and workplace.
  • The lower ground floor accommodates the loading dock, back of house, plant and space for future expansion (e.g. further core technology capability – the potential for high vibration control floor slabs).
  • At the heart of the building is a light filled atrium.
  • The entry foyer is designed to blur the ground plane and the landscape, actively inviting people in.
  • The ‘collider’ is a design centerpiece, designed to optimise random and informal meetings between staff, students and visitors.

The spaces within the building are being designed to suit multiple uses, spanning interaction, teaching and learning, workplace and research.

Subject to further refinement during the schematic phase, the split in areas will be approximately:

  • Interaction space 16%
  • Teaching & learning 25%
  • Workplace 24%
  • Research 35%

Interaction space

  • A ground floor forum with terraced internal amphitheater will accommodate functions and presentations of different scales.
  • The adjoining showcase space will accommodate formal presentations, events, and informal learning/breakout sessions.
  • A commercial café and bank of microwaves for staff and student use will enable casual interaction and collaboration over meals.
  • There will be facilities for industry engagement, visiting researchers, presentations, and wider University use.

Teaching and learning spaces

  • Teaching and learning facilities are distributed throughout the building.
  • Our vision is to build student culture by inviting and encouraging dwell and collaboration time on all levels of the building.
  • Based on NUspace as an exemplar, the teaching and learning allocation comprises of approximately 65% formal learning space such as classrooms and labs, and 35% informal breakout and collaboration spaces.
  • A makers / fabrication lab will be located on the ground floor, to put students’ work “on show”.
  • Formal student teaching laboratories will include for both wet labs (for biology and chemistry) and dry labs (engineering, maths, physics).  In providing for flexibility and adaptability of future teaching needs, all teaching lab spaces are wet or dry lab capable.
  • The formal teaching spaces are located on the upper levels of the building and will be provided with appropriate capability to deliver Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL).  These can accommodate diverse discipline teaching, and operate in multiple teaching modes, e.g. hands on exercises, simulation and virtual activities, student collaboration and focused instruction.
  • These learning spaces are designed to accommodate mobile furniture, allowing for multiple teaching modes to be carried out and to suit evolving pedagogies. Details will be refined during the Schematic Design phase.
  • The informal learning space allocation will incorporate a diverse range student centric spaces, including individual study pods, peer-to-peer, small group collaboration and wider social settings.


  • The workspace will accommodate multidisciplinary research teams.
  • The STEMM building will feature a highly integrated workplace, where staff are located near one another, team-based organisation is enabled, and there is a strong connection with research spaces.
  • We are currently reviewing and defining the University’s future workplace principles, which will be adopted within the STEMM building, as well as the wider STEMM precinct.
  • The building will provide a diverse range of settings, from solitary to collaborative, designed to suit different activities and modes of working.
  • The workplace is defined by three zones – workplace, informal breakout and collaboration rooms. It is open in nature, but with consideration given to storage, security and privacy.
  • A variety of meeting rooms will be provided, from large seminar/board rooms for up to 40 people, through to small Zoom (video conference) rooms for up to five.
  • A Scholars’ Lounge will provide quiet, individual work settings for staff and HDRs. This will be ideal for people not permanently housed in the building or for those seeking a focused and quiet lounge environment.
  • A Visitors’ Suite will provide a bookable workplace for important visitors.
  • Further collaboration rooms, intended to be shared between staff and students, will provide additional space for group project work and meetings.
  • Tea points will be provided on each level of collaborative workplace, with staff encouraged to take longer breaks and meals in the ground floor café/kitchen space.

Research spaces

  • We are developing generic, flexible laboratory spaces which can be readily adapted to meet the evolving requirements of interdisciplinary research.
  • We are still working through details around the types of research that will be prioritised in the space, but we know that preference will be given to highly integrated, interdisciplinary STEMM research.
  • By having labs and workspaces next to each other, we’ll be able to work more efficiently.
  • The labs run the full 71m length of the eastern wing of the building, and measure just under 20 meters in width.
  • To provide vibration control environments for sensitive equipment and research, each lab level will have a three structural bay allowance of an ASHRAE Curve D capability. This will complement the remaining 21 bays which will be of a standard research laboratory capability (ASHRAE Curve F).
  • Core platform technologies will be distributed among the three lab levels, with the largest allocation on the ground floor and further expansion being considered on the lower ground. This will place ‘science on show’.
  • We are still working through the full suite of core platform technologies that will be housed in the building, however so far we have identified: the Analytical and Bimolecular Research Facility (ABRF) and the Electron Microscope and X-Ray (EMX) units.
  • We are undertaking further investigation for very high vibration control floor slab (meeting ASHRAE Curve B requirements) on the lower ground floor, which will be able to house equipment such as an advanced microscopy suite.
  • Consultation with the University’s researchers will help inform these decisions.
  • The building will sit where McMullin, our very first building on campus, is currently located.
  • It will be the flagship building in our Callaghan campus STEMM precinct.
  • Part of the project will see us define a new “gateway” to campus – identified as the space between the new building and the Great Hall. This will incorporate terraced spaces complemented by landscaping to invite people to meet and gather.
  • An architectural feature of the building includes rooms that project out of its square floor plan, looking out to significant indigenous landmarks.
  • The site fronts McMullin Lane to its east, with The Great Hall to its west and the Campus Green to its north.
  • The building benefits from multiple public transport links close to the south entrance. We are committed to a sustainable transport strategy, which promotes active and public transport.


  • The surrounding spaces maximise opportunities for an enhanced campus experience, inviting socialisation and participation on the Campus Green with staggered courtyards and terraces.
  • Planned pathways and landscaping will connect the building to the lively Shortland precinct, offering essential services to tenants and visitors.
  • The STEMM building will connect to potential future STEMM developments via strategic integration with the surrounding campus fabric and landscape.
  • We will have to remove some trees on campus to allow the works to take place.
  • We assess trees carefully for their size and habitat significance, and do our best to explore options that allow us to preserve significant trees. Where removal is absolutely necessary, we compensate through bush regeneration to improve our overall campus biodiversity health. For example, if the tree is hollow bearing, we install nest boxes in other surrounding trees to provide shelter for any displaced bats, possums or birds. Other compensatory work includes weeding, and planting new native seedlings across our bushland zones and wetland areas.
  • The landscape design facilitates universal access (disability) from the new STEMM building drop off, to the Great Hall and through to the campus lawn and buildings within the STEMM Precinct.


  • We are targeting a world-leading 6-Star rating under the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star Design and As Built V1.2 Rating Tool.
  • Key sustainability features include:
  • Engineered timber structure which reduces environmental footprint and provides ease of construction.
  • 300Kw Super PV (solar) array shading the rooftop.
  • ‘Airtight’ façade with high performing double glazing.
  • Fume cupboards to be collected into a single fan system instead of individually flued, to significantly reduce power load.
  • Demand controlled ventilation with heat exchange for high level indoor air quality and reduced energy use in labs.
  • Rainwater collection via roof, and reuse in water cooled chillers or toilet flushing.
  • $200 million in the project.
  • This includes the management, design and construction of the necessary enabling works, the building and the immediate surrounding area (e.g. external landscaping).
  • Our largest capital works spend ever. The level of investment in this project is representative of how crucial STEMM will be to our University’s future success.
  • We are directing further funds to upgrading and building other facilities across the University’s STEMM precinct.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.