Recently, Australia has been grappling with a student housing shortage affecting its most populated cities. According to a 2017 Savills Market Report on Australian student accommodation, the city of Brisbane’s current stock of student housing can only serve about nine percent of its fulltime university students. That issue, paired with the influx of international students coming to the region—which increased 11 percent from 2015 to 2016—has pushed the Brisbane City Council to create an initiative where developers were offered financial incentives to build high-density student housing around the city’s downtown area to keep up with the demand.
The Unilodge Central Park, developed by Wee Hur Holdings, is a 4,000-square-meter site designed by our Brisbane studio and includes two dormitory complexes providing 1,600 studios and shared apartments. The project is the first of three developments in the overall initiative to create a densified urban solution for the emerging inner-city suburb of Buranda.
With its transit-oriented location, this architectural typology is a natural fit as its relationship to nearby transportation services allows for greater density and easier access to both downtown Brisbane and the University of Queensland. As such, the architects were required to incorporate a pedestrian link to the Buranda Bus Plaza, Buranda Rail Station, and Pacific Motorway. For those with their own modes of transportation, there are 400 vehicle and motorcycle parking spots. To utilize more sustainable methods, nearly 800 bicycles can be stored in the buildings with access to the nearby Brisbane bicycle path network.
Due to the city’s subtropical climate, a public outdoor space was incorporated at the street level between the two buildings and includes several retail spaces and dining areas. In each building’s podium there are internal communal spaces intended for students that include lounges, media rooms, kitchens and dining rooms, and laundry spaces.
Both buildings are comprised by a podium and tower to emphasize an indoor-outdoor relationship with rooftop gardens and internal sky gardens integrated on every third level. The articulated façade marked by swaths of seafoam green and metallic panels functions by not only giving the towers color and texture, but also controling the amount of sunlight that floods the interiors. This manipulation of light and façade treatment also allows students a vista from the outdoor communal spaces.
The project’s 1,600 student housing beds reflects six percent of the total student housing beds created for 2018, according to the Brisbane City Council.