Smart building for smart students

The University of Melbourne is a highly regarded tertiary education provider, offering a range of courses from Undergraduate to Postgraduate qualifications. They have long been at the forefront of providing educational excellence, and this commitment extends to their student accommodation.

NDY was tasked with designing a range of engineering solutions that enhanced the amenity for students, while taking into account key sustainability and environmental requirements. The new student residential building, also known as “The Village”, provides students with accommodation that supports their studies, while allowing them to enjoy university life.

Sustainable living

The University of Melbourne places a strong emphasis on preparing for the future, and the student accommodation was no exception. Sustainability was a strong requirement for the design.

There were several innovative approaches that improved the sustainability rating of the building, including photovoltaic panels on roof that offset the need for mains power in the building. Other features include rainwater collection to supplement the water supply for the pool and irrigation needs of the building, providing bicycle parking in lieu of car spaces, and an innovative solar chimney.

The solar chimney incorporates a metal chimney on the roof, which is exposed to the sun. As it warms, an updraft pulls air through the ventilation ducting, providing a very energy efficient air circulation solution.

The University of Melbourne places a strong emphasis on preparing for the future, and the student accommodation was no exception.

To allow for fresh airflow without opening the whole window, small trickle ventilators were installed. Occupants can control their position, to create airflow without the associated loss of heat energy from an open window.

The corridors contained similar motorised louvres for airflow, which are operated by the Building Management System (BMS) based on external environmental conditions.

The energy efficient LED lighting in corridor and circulation spaces use motion detection to provide light only when they are in use, while a clever feature is a convenient “master off” switch for each apartment, which allows students leaving their room to turn off all the lights and power to their apartment with one switch.

Government regulations required a 4.5 Star Greenstar rating, but the building achieved a 5 Star “as-designed” rating, exceeding expectations.

Enhanced learning environment

Each floor of the building has an open lounge area, where students can mingle and relax. This is kept acoustically isolated from the student’s rooms by using clever insulation materials and extra-thick wall paneling. A music room for the students was also provided with acoustic paneling to reduce echo and improve the sound characteristics of the space.

The ventilation was also carefully planned, so that the air movement didn’t create distracting noises and whistles. This was done by determining the optimal airflow, as well as providing vibration-minimising materials and insulation around the duct work, and the machinery.

The result is an environment where the students can be studying in their room, without being disturbed by others making noise in the common areas.

A monitor at the ground floor reception displays building utility usage to promote lower energy usage and educate students on consumption.

Safe and secure

The building also promotes security for the residents. With efficient lighting throughout the space linked to motion sensors, all areas in use can remain well lit while still maintaining the energy and cost saving measures that are required.

Fire safety is a priority for all student accommodation, and substantial attention was given to this for the Leicester Street building. The behaviour of smoke and fire in the building was modelled, and smoke spill systems and addressable detection designed to suit.

With so many students, the risk of false alarms (such as from burning toast) was addressed with an alarm acknowledgement facility installed in all the apartments, which allows the occupant to cancel a false alarm within 60 seconds.

A learning environment for the future

Planning for future needs is vital for buildings that are expected to perform well for their life cycle. The design incorporates robust, reliable solutions and technology that enhances the communication, sustainability and security of the learning space, with potential for future adaptability. By enabling students to work in an environment that caters to their needs, the Leicester Street building is empowering the students of the University of Melbourne as they work towards a valuable qualification, and a promising future.

Key collaborative team

Client Campus Living Villages
Architect Architectus
Builder Watpac
Engineering Services NDY and CJ Arms (Hydraulics)

NDY services

  • Acoustics
  • Electrical
  • Fire detection and fire protection
  • ICT
  • Mechanical
  • Security
  • Sustainability
  • Vertical Transport

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