Madsen Building | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Madsen Building

Item details

Name of item: Madsen Building
Other name/s: Csir National Standards Laboratory
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Scientific Facilities
Category: Laboratory (scientific/ research)
Primary address: Eastern Avenue, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006
Local govt. area: Sydney

Boundary:

The University of Sydney : Camperdown Campus
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Eastern Avenue, The University of SydneySydneySydney  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
University of SydneyUniversity 

Statement of significance:

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.
Date significance updated: 15 Jun 16
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: Commonwealth Department of the Interior
Builder/Maker: Unknown
Construction years: 1939-1940
Physical description: 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.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Refer to the 1999 University of Sydney Heritage Fabric Survey.
Date condition updated:19 Aug 00
Modifications and dates: Stages 3 and 4, 1944.
Conversion to University facilities 1979.
Further information: A comparative study of the Commonwealth facilities at the University should be undertaken.
Current use: University Facility
Former use: National Standards Laboratory

History

Historical notes: 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. The building was named after Sir John Percival Vissing Madsen, a graduate of the University of Sydney with further studies and research in radiography and X-rays in Adelaide, lecturer and later foundation professor of electrical engineering at the University of Sydney in 1912, associated with CSIR at its inception in 1926, chairman and foundation member of the Radio Research Board, and foundation member under chairman Sir George Julius and chairman from 1938 to 1944 of the National Committee on Sceondary Industry Standards which led to the recommendation for a National Standards Laboratory. Madsen was also chairman of the Radiophysics Advisory Board (1939-1942) in charge of radar developments which occupied the expanded National Standards Laboratory building in1939-40. Madsen advocated a link between academic and industrial research which continues at the University to this day.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Science-Activities associated with systematic observations, experiments and processes for the explanation of observable phenomena (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
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. A purpose built facility constructed during WW II.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Continuing the architectural vocabulary established by the Main Quadrangle.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
For its continued use in association with the University.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Indicating changes in the nature of testing laboratories.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Further comparative studies required.
Integrity/Intactness: Substantially modified internally. Substantially intact (in its extended form) externally.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

A conservation plan has been prepared for this building and its policies should be implemented. Refer to the 1999 University of Sydney Heritage Fabric Survey. Ensure that the impact of any proposal on the heritage significance of the building, and its setting, is assessed when planning new works.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerUniversity of Sydney    

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  Building 24 December 1940 pp 14-17
WrittenOrwell & Peter Phillips Architects Conservation/Management Plan for The Madsen Building, University of Sydney. Commissioned by Woods Bagot Pty Ltd on behalf of The University of Sydney, 1995.

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4726029


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