The project, located on one of Australia’s pre-eminent universities Monash University’s Clayton Campus, Melbourne Australia comprises two 5 storeys buildings each containing 300 student studios, flanking a central, common courtyard. The fundamental starting point for the project was creating a community whilst supporting the individual; therefore the courtyard becomes the meeting point and entry to the building, and refers to traditional university college accommodation where students can interact from their private spaces to the common.
The buildings, ‘boomerang’ in plan, have been designed to enable residents to interact with each other in and across the courtyard. All shared spaces and the primary vertical circulation have been centrally located in each building to encourage interaction between students. The large communal spaces are double storey in height and play an important role in connecting all levels volumetrically and represent a defining moment in the architectural composition. Each wing of the building has approximately 30 studio apartments each with a kitchenette, ensuite and living/sleeping space. The design of the studios was carefully considered due to their size of 20m2. Importantly, a floor to ceiling window that covers about two thirds of the external wall, creates a feeling of spaciousness and light.
The site is located in the context of sporting fields, the manufactured landscape and a natural bush reserve. The simple palette of timber, concrete and black steel and was selected to merge the building form with the surrounding landscape. The building scale is mitigated by pairing studios together to form a greater rhythm in the facade reading, giving the effect of fewer units and lower scaled building. The timber facade is angled within the concrete frame to provide both shading and a dynamic pattern of light and shade to modulate facades. The double storey height common spaces wrapped in timber slats affords views to the sports fields and bush reserve. The courtyard is pinched but open at each end signifying a semi-public space without the need for physical barriers.
This project has achieved a 5 star Green Star As Designed rating and is the first multi-residential project to do so in Australia. It is currently being assessed for a 5 Star Green Star As Built rating. The landscape has been designed to reduce run-off through a selection of surface materials and appropriate planting. All roof rainwater is collected and stored in 3 x 50,000 litre tanks. Grey water from basins, showers and kitchen sinks is also collected, processed and reused for toilet flushing and irrigation. Reduced energy consumption is achieved through the implementation of over 2,000m2 of solar roof panelling (and associated reduced thermal impact as a result of reflectivity). This is one of the largest residential solar installations in the Southern Hemisphere. The use of double glazing, trickle intake ventilation, thermal chimneys and operable facades ensure natural ventilation throughout ensuring the deletion of mechanical heating and cooling to the entire development. All heating is through gas boosted radiant water heated panels.
As the funding was linked to occupation date, the project was delivered under a Design and Construct Procurement method, with a very fast program of 15 months from engagement to completion. A full team of consultants worked together to deliver the project and resolve design issues in collaboration with the contractor.
Full scale studio prototypes and facade prototypes were constructed as part of the design development process and to assist with client sign off. Despite this challenging environment the outcome has not been compromised and demonstrates excellent value for money for the University and great amenity for the residents. The project has been identified as the new benchmark for the National and State Government for Affordable Housing. Prior to opening in January 2012, all 600 studios had been filled.Location: Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Architect: BVN Architecture Project name: Monash university student housing Photos: John Gollings