The Purpose Built Student Accommodation Launceston (PBSAL) buildings bring student living to the heart of the transforming UTAS Inveresk Campus. Xsquared Architects and BVN Architecture have aimed with this project to create a vibrant and public-fronted design which respects the privacy of its residents while reflecting the bold ambitions of the University of Tasmania’s Northern Transformation Project. The buildings respond and reflect the heritage of the area, wrapping a homely, domestic scale interior with a modern interpretation of the metal clad industrial buildings adjacent. Importantly, the design allows communal spaces to flow around the built forms so that the accommodation is fully integrated with the life of the campus.
The site for the project lies within the University’s Inveresk precinct, bounded by the North Esk River to the south and east, and abutting Invermay to the north and west. The UTAS Stadium (York Park), a 20,000 seater stadium of relatively modern form, is immediately adjacent, and management of the interface with this large building has been an important urban design consideration. The overall language of the area, however, is that of large scale metal industrial sheds, typified by the remaining buildings from the Inveresk Rail Yards around ‘Traverser Lane’, and of the open space of the developing University Square to the east, which lies at the intersection of the campus through route running from Invermay down to the river and the new John Wardle designed foot-bridge that links across to the city beyond.
The student accommodation buildings are arranged to provide an end point to this through route axis and to provide containment to University Square, but also to turn towards one another, creating a contained courtyard space for activity at the centre, the scale of which provides enclosure and protection – open to the north for direct sunlight, and yet small enough to provide a sense of intimacy for the residential cohort. The built forms themselves consist of solid podiums – conceptually formed from a wrapping up of the ground plane – which take their material cues from the local dolerite evident within the nearby Cataract Gorge. The upper levels of the buildings then directly reference the adjacent industrial typology, taking the locally evident materials and wrapping them over the residential form within. The residential usage is evident where it breaks through the skin at gables, and through the refined detailing of the otherwise more industrial material palette.