Sydney Architecture Images- Sydney University

Madsen Building former CSIR labs


DE Limberg (Commonwealth Dept of the Interior)


Eastern Ave




Collegiate Gothic Inter-War Gothic


stone cladding


research offices
The first National Standards Laboratory in Australia and a centre of scientific excellence. Representative of the CSIR policy to establish laboratories in different places in the Commonwealth where the necessary facilities, contacts and conditions could be found. Representative of the University's links with the wider scientific community and with research of particular benefit to Australia and of financial support given to the University by the Commonwealth. Research conducted by the laboratory was of importance to the war effort in World War II. Externally designed to fit in with its location on the main ridge, many internal features were purpose-designed, specific to the laboratory's research work.

Established by the Commonwealth Government in 1926, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research initially addressed the problems of primary industry but in 1937 extended its assistance to secondary industries. In 1938 the CSIR made an agreement to locate its National Standards Laboratory in Sydney University. Located on the ridge to the south of the main quadrangle, the building was designed by the Department of the Interior in simplified Gothic Revival style with sandstone facing on the eastern facade to blend with existing buildings. Stages 1 & 2 built in 1939-1940 completed a quadrangle and Stages 3 & 4, completed by 1944, a figure of eight plan. The building housed both the National Standards Laboratory's work in metrology, physics and electro technology and the Division of Radio physics. Design features specific to function included a 130ft tape tunnel, air conditioning to many rooms to maintain a constant temperature at bench height and particular attention to electrical cabling. Usage by the CSIRO continued until 1979 when the building was converted for University use.

A two storey building, constructed in stage to form courtyards or quadrangles. The first stage, with its central tower is constructed of sandstone. Additions to the building (at the rear) are constructed of brick. Although Gothic Revival in inspiration, the detailing and form of the building clearly shows the influence of the Art Deco style, in both the massing and the stripped down detailing. The tower contains arched panels with lancet windows and stone mullions and transoms. The crenellations to the tower are unusual, in that they contain lancet (windows/vents?) and quatrefoils. The upper two levels of the tower have a chamfered corner, accentuating its verticality. The main facade has a line of mature cedars (?) which may have been planted at the time of construction.