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Macquarie University Campus Dining Room
Macquarie University Campus Dining Room Project (2018)

Macquarie University Campus Dining Room Project (2018)


Application: Container-mounted architectural structures for university dining hall.

This project was entered in the LSAA 2018 Design Awards (Cat 4, 4001)


The Macquarie University Campus Common project comprised of the design & construction of a series of 11 container-mounted architectural awnings to cover a new temporary dining area for students. The design involved 6 market structures, 1 larger 30m x 30m ‘main’ structure, and 4 awning structures. The main structure was required to have an internal environmental control system for temperature regulation inside.

The intention of the temporary solution meant that the design allows for the structures to be easily dismantled and relocated in 5 years.


Photo Credit: Michael Anderson, Paramount Studios



The client was faced with a dilemma: The University’s current dining facilities were to be demolished & redeveloped into a first-rate experience for students. The construction of the new facilities was going to take a few years to complete, so they needed an attractive, cost-effective, functional but temporary solution that could cater to the demands of a busy student eatery. The client needed a solution that could also be easily dismantled once the redevelopment works of the new dining area were complete.

The chosen design was a series of relocatable architectural structures, featuring 1 large 30m x 30m main structure, 6 smaller structures, and 4 awnings.


Each 9m x 9m market structure was designed as a single unit, so that they could be adapted and joined to cover larger areas. Six identical modules were used for the smaller market structures, connecting in different relation and orientation to each other to form one continuous cover. For the six models, the steel and fabric were 100% pre-assembled at ground level, away from the construction zone, and then lifted onto the containers as complete pieces. This reduced working at heights and speed up the client’s overall program.

The main structure was a large 30m clear span design with a unique saw tooth ridge and valley roof shape. The entire roof structure is supported on double-stacked shipping containers that act both as foundations and walls. As part of the internal environmental control requirement, specialised custom roof vents were installed. The truss design was split in two, to create the illusion that the internal liner is the roof fabric when standing inside the structure.

The air gap between the liner and the external roof fabric is a 750mm deep cavity, but the design of this internal liner is very clever, offering a seamlessly polished aesthetic finish from the inside. The cavity assists with insulation and environmental internal control and lowers the heat inside the building. The water drainage and sump system are completely hidden inside the cavity.


Galvanised structural steel was used, with the main roof being a truss system that adopted 2 layers of fabric. This assisted internal environmental control. Because of the two layers, the fabric choice was based on the need for membrane with highly translucent values to maintain natural daylight.

The 4 awning structures were originally designed as a polycarbonate roof. With Fabritecture’s design guidance and change to a fabric roof, the steel frame weight was reduced by over 50% resulting in a more cost-effective product that the architect was extremely happy with the outcome of.


We came up with a unique connection system to the containers that allowed the containers to be the structural support. The containers aren’t stacked in a traditional method, but rather to support the aesthetic architectural stacking vision of the client.

The internal sumps (internal gutters) of the structure were also unique. The water drainage and sump system are completely hidden inside the cavity.


All structures were designed to fix to containers by a specifically designed bolted connection utilising the corner casts of the containers simplifying dismantle and re-use later. The design meant that the structures could be utilised for future use once the temporary student hub is no longer required.

Complex gable infills, and weather flap details were provided by the geometry of the steel and its attachment the containers. Connection to the containers is achieved through the specially designed bolted connection, which worked brilliantly.

All the structures sit on top of stacked shipping containers, connected only through bolted connections, to allow for easy dismantling in around 5 years at the end of use.


The architect and the client were looking to create a student experience on campus that was a unique, fun and friendly place to go, providing them with a true university experience while the redevelopment of the food halls was going on. This project is an innovative example of how fabric architecture can be designed as an aesthetic, versatile and practical solution to almost any application.

The final product looks amazing. All the details worked well together, and the client is very happy. The structures met the needs of the client and the students. The innovative solution means that the design allows for the structure to be easily dismantled in 5 years, providing a practical & aesthetic finish while it’s required.


Entrant:  Fabritecture
Role played by Entrant:  Designer / installer

Location:  Sydney, NSW 
Completed:   September 2017

Client:  Macquarie University

Architect:  Architectus
Engineer:  Wade Design Engineers
Builder:  Grindley Construction
Fabricator:  Textile Fabrication Services
Photo Credits: Michael Anderson, Paramount Studios

Ref Gallery: 2018_Images/Award_Entries/4001_Macquarie_Uni  DPID 260