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2013/73/1 Architectural model, UTS (University of Technology Sydney) Tower Re-Skin, wood / textile / plastic / metal, made by LAVA Laboratory for Visionary Architecture, Australia, 2009-2010. Click to enlarge.

Architectural Model, UTS Tower Re-Skin by LAVA, 2009-2010

The LAVA model is significant as an artefact of the potential of high-tech building facades, especially as a means to recycle and improve existing buildings. It is also significant for its prominence in contemporary debates about the value of classic tower formats and the more efficient and sustainable possibilities now being created.

LAVA's proposal to re-skin the UTS Tower began in 2009 as a speculative idea. Because of the landmark status of this 1970s building and the potential of the …


Object No.


Object Statement

Architectural model, UTS (University of Technology Sydney) Tower Re-Skin, wood / textile / plastic / metal, made by LAVA Laboratory for Visionary Architecture, Australia, 2009-2010

Physical Description

Architectural model depicting the UTS (University of Technology Sydney) tower building as it would appear if covered with an outer architectural skin. The tower block is made of dark brown masonite. The building is encased in a metal frame around which is wrapped shiny silver stretch fabric. The model is wired with small lights. Small white plastic silhouetted human figures are placed around the model to indicate scale.



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Chris Bosse (b.1971) was born and educated in Stuttgart. His career and education have run parallel with the development of digital design processes and his work is a leader among those using 3D modelling to integrate design, manufacture and structure.

Bosse worked in Europe before joining Sydney's PTW Architects. He was involved in several of PTW's projects in China, Vietnam, Japan and the Gulf, most notably Bosse was associate architect for the Water Cube Aquatic Centre built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Bosse's work for PTW brought him to Sydney where in 2007 he formed LAVA (Laboratory for Visionary Architects) with Tobias Wallisser and Alexander Rieck; LAVA has offices in Sydney, Stuttgart and Abu Dhabi.

LAVA has been successful in creating new processes for building design and construction as well as winning high profile commissions to implement these concepts. These include the Martian Embassy for the Sydney Story Factory, Redfern and two major projects in the UAE - the new city Masdar, planned as the first zero-carbon city and the Michael Shumacher Tower, a residential complex under construction in Abu Dhabi.



The UTS Tower was designed in the late 1960s by the NSW Government Architect's office; Michael Dysart was the design architect. The Tower was not completed until 1979 by which time it already appeared outdated given that critiques of Modernist building genres were prominent in architectural debate during the 1970s. The Tower has been a frequent 'winner' of the 'Sydney's ugliest building' surveys which occasionally feature in the Sydney media. However a recent mellowing of attitudes towards Modernism in general and Brutalism in particular has encouraged appreciation of the Tower's architecture and singularity.

Chris Bosse developed the tower skin concept in 2009: 'The speculative project, 'Tower Skin', offers a unique opportunity to transform the identity, sustainability and interior comfort of the once state-of-the-art building...A re-skinned UTS Tower could be an example of sustainability, innovation, cutting edge design and creative education, without demolishing and rebuilding the 1960s icon'.

This model was created by the LAVA Sydney studio for the exhibition 'State. Respond. Exploring Sustainable Design' held at Object Gallery, Sydney during February and March 2010.

Despite attracting widespread attention and praise the LAVA concept was initially rejected by UTS as part of its current major building and rebuilding program. The UTS deputy vice-chancellor, Patrick Woods, was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald (30 March 2010) that the UTS Tower's internal amenities needed to be upgraded before the university could consider its exterior: 'People either love the tower or they hate it and that community split is reflected within the university community'. In the event the podium levels of the Tower will be refurbished but the Tower will be not be altered.

However in 2011 UTS vice-chancellor, Professor Ross Milbourne, said the proposal was 'a really interesting design. We've talked about it as probably the only way to go for the main tower in future, but not right now...[the tower] works too well on the inside to knock it down, so a new skin is the right option...But UTS is planning to spend $1billion over the next five years on four new buildings and refurbishments to three more, so this isn't on our agenda for the immediate future.' (Sydney Morning Herald 19 June 2011).

It is relevant that the UTS Tower is unusually efficient for a 1960s-designed tower in part due to its relatively small glass area (itself a result of the original brief that the building would be primarily used by night students) and concrete shading.

In October 2013 the Tower Reskin project was chosen as one of ten contemporary unbuilt projects to be featured in the Australian exhibition at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. The creative directors of the exhibition (titeld Augmented Australia), Felix_Giles_Anderson+Goad, will bring the projects to virtual life using three-dimensional augmented models, images, voice-overs and animations. The exhibition will also include ten historical unbuilt projects, to be unveiled at the Vernissage in 2014.


Credit Line

Gift of LAVA Laboratory for Visionary Architecture, 2013

Acquisition Date

5 September 2013

Cite this Object


Architectural Model, UTS Tower Re-Skin by LAVA, 2009-2010 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 12 August 2022, <>


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