University of Melbourne Student Pavilion – Honor Award

Driven by student input on diversity, gender equity, well being, and sustainability, the new 27,000 SF Student Pavilion creates an informal “home on campus” for students within the new 225,000 SF Student Precinct that expands services for commuting students at the University of Melbourne. The planning of the Precinct was a collaborative effort, achieved together with four other Australian Architecture and two landscape Architecture firms. The masterplan combines old, new, and historic architecture through a unifying landscape that acknowledges the location’s pre-colonial indigenous history. As one of the few new buildings, the Student Pavilion (designed by this office) had the opportunity to create an active face to convey a sense of welcome and inclusion. Occupiable outdoor spaces, projecting balconies, rooftop gardens, and exterior circulation on all levels accumulate to create a hub of visible activity. Inside, the hybrid program of dining, informal study, recreational library, and meeting spaces offer a relaxed and robust setting for student life. Designed to achieve a GBC Australia “6-Star” Rating (LEED Platinum equivalent) the building’s expression is reinforced by the use of sustainable materials as well as visible passive and active environmental strategies.


This is a vibrant space in a very dense university in which the structural expression becomes integral to the architecture. The clever way in which the design choreographs movement through the building fosters a sense of community, blurring the boundaries between interior/exterior.

Noteworthy performance features include:

1. Uses passive design strategies

2. Integrates program, student life and equity.

//framework for design excellence measures
Measure 1: Design for Integration
Recent Australian bushfires and subsequent COVID lockdown were major concerns for the client and building authorities. Emissions-reducing passive design strategies address climate change and selected resilient materials and ventilation systems address occupant health. The high-performance envelope optimizes glazing, orientation for daylighting and views, shading, and natural ventilation. The ground and 4th floors utilize mixed-mode ventilation to support indoor/outdoor use, while the two intermediate floors employ automated louvers for night-flushing. The mechanical systems are zoned by façade orientation for maximum responsiveness. Deep overhangs limit summer heat (from the north) but admit sun during the cool Melbourne winters. A 20.1 kW bifacial PV pergola shades the rooftop garden and offsets approximately 20mWh of energy per year. Even though food service, education, and public assembly are energy intensive, the project still achieved an EUI of 48.99, a 48% savings over baseline.
The team conducted a thorough LCCA to evaluate environmental impact reduction. This assessment considered material health, service life, design and construction processes, climate change potential, acidification and eutrophication potential, and mineral and fossil fuel depletion potential among other metrics. The project achieved a 156.2% cumulative impact reduction across 7 mandatory GreenStar impact categories.
Measure 2: Design for Equitable Communities
Gender Equity: gender equity was of key interest to students and the Student Pavilion incorporates both accessible and gender neutral bathrooms throughout.
Measure 3: Design for Ecosystems
The Student Pavilion sits in the context of the University of Melbourne, an urban campus with a high density of trees and greenspace. The focus for ecology was to highlight the local and indigenous-based landscapes. Guided by the profound principles of the First Nation’s “Connection to Country,” the design embraces place by using native plant species and providing habitats for local biodiversity. The design implements effective strategies for managing surface water for irrigation and provides ample soil volumes to support the healthy growth of trees. Cool roofing and 3,425sf of rooftop plantings mitigate the heat-island effect.
Measure 4: Design for Water
The Student Precinct had previously been terraced and filled. Restoring the natural form of the landscaping reinstates historic water flows and provides flood mitigation to the adjacent catchment. Permeable materials and drought-tolerant native plantings reduce potable water consumption, demonstrate water sensitive urban design, enhance microclimates and urban cooling, and deliver opportunities for student engagement. The Student Pavilion captures rainwater which is reused for toilets, cooling tower, and irrigation. Planted roof areas retain stormwater to reduce stress on plumbing systems, while also preventing rapid evaporation. Highly-efficient plumbing fixtures minimize indoor water-use and reliance on municipal services.
Measure 5: Design for Economy
Supply chain disruptions during COVID lockdown were unusually acute in Australia, so materials and systems were selected with economy and availability in mind. Securing accurate pricing at that time proved to be a tricky endeavor and inflated material and labor costs. The final cost of the building, $21M (AUS) or approximate $780/sf. We participated in many VE strategies to help the contractor defray COVID impact costs in this design build project.
Measure 6: Design for Energy
The facade was designed with a window-wall ratio of 54% utilizing the energy model to assess glass quantity and distribution based on high U-Value and high SHGC glazing and unitized spandrel panels with an R-Value of 4.7, equivalent to R27 in the US (above the 3.5 code minimum). The roof also includes R6.0 insulation below pavers (above the R4.0 minimum) and intensive plantings. The glazing was placed strategically for solar access. North, east and west facing glass is shaded by overhangs that limit summer exposure, but admit winter sun.
Measure 7: Design for Well-Being
Each level of the Student Pavilion features outdoor terraces where students and staff can relax, socialize, and enjoy views of the campus. These terraces are connected by the exterior stair that encourages physical movement. Food service, some of which is student-run, offer healthy diet choices. All cooking appliances are electric which reduces carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide emissions. Mechanical systems are designed to maximize natural ventilation and minimize transmission of contaminants. Several toxic materials were prohibited for use including asbestos, lead, synthetic mineral fibers, CFCs, HCFCs, PCBs, Mercury, etc.
Measure 8: Design for Resources
Low-carbon concrete was chosen as the primary structural material. 30% of all cement was replaced with SCMs (fly ash or blast slag) and 50% of the water used for concrete was reclaimed. Robust unfinished materials require minimal maintenance. 95% of wood was locally sourced and FSC certified. Custom concrete pavers were made using recycled demolition debris aggregate. Finishes are surface mounted and mechanically attached where possible to ensure easy disassembly and recycling. Exposed steel is hot-dipped galvanized with no additional coatings. Reusable dish service system with on site dishwashing stations reduces waste.
Measure 9: Design for Change
In Melbourne, threats include extreme heat, wind-driven fire, severe storms and flooding. Fire-resistant concrete was chosen as a cost-effective and resilient structural system. Shaded outdoor landscaped areas with roof misters are provided for building occupants for comfort during summer months. Durable, lightly-colored materials are used to mitigate heat island effect, while timber cladding is thoroughly engineered to reduce potential fire spread. Glazing is provided in appropriate areas to take full advantage of thermal mass properties and avoid temperature swings. Drainage is designed to maximize rainwater capture. Spaces are designed to maximize natural ventilation to lessen load on mechanical systems.
Measure 10: Design for Discovery
Post-Occupancy resident evaluation has not yet been conducted.
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