"This is breaking down barriers. We have patients come in and think they must be in the wrong place"
Professor Ian Hickie, Executive Director BMRI

BMRI Youth Mental Health Building

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The University of Sydney
Brain & Mind Research Institute, Mallett Street, Camperdown NSW
May 2007 - June 2010
Full Architectural Services

4,500m² GFA


Integrating clinical research and treatment in a respectful, welcoming environment, translating to better treatment in mental health.

The Youth Mental Health Building (YMHB) is part of the Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI), of the Faculty of Medicine at The University of Sydney. The BMRI is engaged with research into mental health and clinical issues relating to the brain.

Heralding real change in mental health treatment and research, the YMHB represents both internationally award-winning architectural design and world class treatment and research in mental health.

The YMHB consists of two floors for patient treatment, and two floors of research laboratories above. An upper level bridge connects to further research laboratories in two adjoining buildings. This configuration allows the retention of the two-storey heritage listed façade and places the labs in a ‘sliding glass box’ on top of the old façade.

The ground floor spaces are designed to be welcoming and unintimidating for patients. Internally the floors are linked by an open stair and small atrium containing the social space of the centre. Meeting rooms and all facilities are accessible from this central space. At the street edge, the building’s materials reflect the light industrial context of the neighbourhood. The ‘sliding box’ is clad with translucent glass planks ensuring diffuse natural light to the laboratories, resulting in very low energy consumption.


Brain & Mind Research Institute, Mallett Street, Camperdown NSW


WAF Health Award
Design & Health Health Project (under 40,000m2) High Commendation
RAIA NSW Sulman Award for Public Architecture
RIBA International Award
Chicago Antheneum International Architecture Award

Brief Elements

  • Directorate
  • Generic Research Office & Write up
  • Dry Research Offices
  • PC2 Generic Research Labs
  • PC2 Cell Culture
  • Electron Microscope with vibration isolation
  • Fish breeding tanks (Aquarium)


  • Co-locates research and clinical treatment in a ‘translational’ environment
  • Integrates with existing buildings and streetscape
  • Fire engineered spaces allow labs to be visible
  • Central support spaces allow sharing of facilities without impacting research spaces
  • Timber and other materials create warm, tactile, welcoming non-clinical feel for patient comfort
  • Internal stair connects the facility and leads to communal spaces


Leichhardt Council