- Director: Glynn Evans
- Director Da: Mark Louw
- Design Architect / Director Post Da: Scott Norton
- Project Architect / Superintendent: Matt McNeil
- Architectural Assistant: David Haire
- Specification: Mark Corbet
- Mechanical, Electrical, Environmental: VOS Group
- Hydraulic: Sparks & Partners
- Total Project Cost: $9.2m
- City: North Ryde
- Country: Australia
The new student accommodation building at Robert Menzies College (RMC) is a contemporary symbol of the college’s identity, on the expanding Macquarie University campus. It represents the brand, culture and function of RMC and reinforces the college’s interactive, supportive and social emphasis.
Macquarie University’s need for student housing has increased exponentially in the last couple of years, with demand exceeding supply. The new building at RMC includes 104 new bedrooms, seminar rooms and common room areas for senior undergraduates, post-graduate and doctoral students; and communal outdoor recreation space and conference facilities for use by the greater community.
It is an infill development which seeks to complete the fabric of the existing college at RMC. Architectural references have been made to the robust materials and textures of the existing buildings, such as face brick, off-form concrete and terracotta cladding. The building also picks up on elements of form, such as the vertical windows of the dining hall and the modulated blocks of the accommodation buildings.
The building is divided into two wings, connected lightly by a glazed bridge element. The south wing addresses and contains the new active courtyard space, and expresses the identity of the college community in a vibrant and dynamic way. It is the public face of the college and has a bold visual presence along Waterloo Road, contributing to the entry statement of the Macquarie University campus. The north wing expresses a more practical and robust purpose, referencing the masonry elements of the existing accommodation buildings.
The college aimed to increase their accommodation capacity as much as possible within a relatively tight budget that was defined at the outset. This required rigorous cost management by the team during design, documentation and construction. The regular and modular plan, rationalised load bearing structure and conventional construction techniques were aimed at less specialised builders and trades. Equally, ongoing lifecycle costs were to be minimized, so robust materials requiring little or no maintenance such as face brick and concrete block were specified.
The building was conceived with passive solar principles in mind and provides custom sunshading elements, cross ventilation to all common areas and corridors, insulated facades and thermal mass. Automatically controlled and timed lighting, mechanical ventilation and air-conditioning are used in common areas to reduce energy wastage. Although no air conditioning was provided to the accommodation rooms, the occupants have been completely comfortable, even in the extremes of summer. Rainwater is harvested in a large underground tank for irrigation of the landscaped areas of the campus, and gas water heaters and appliances.
While the building sits well stylistically with the existing buildings on the site, its design distinguishes it from the accommodation provided for the under-graduates currently housed at the college and provides the new branding element that the college desired. Already, the amenities and contemporary appeal have contributed to record student intake when compared to neighbouring colleges.