Aspen Island Upgrade
Australian Capital Territory | Urban
Completed in February 2019, the project was created to form strong links between the university and the city, encouraging the Canberra public into the centre of the campus. Through co-locating a unique mix of building functions around a central open space, the project has created an engaging new precinct for Canberra, while resetting the ANU academic experience by merging contemporary learning with an enriched cultural life.
The reconstruction of the heart of the ANU campus was the result of a two-stage design process, the first stage being the preparation of the Urban Design Framework (CIVITAS), the Public Realm Guidelines (OCULUS) and a Place Book (ColonySix). These documents were prepared over a two-year period via consultation with all university faculties, the student population, potential building tenants and the public. From this process, a brief for the Design and Construction phase of the project was created.
BVN Architects were awarded the contract to design six new buildings and lahznimmo architects with ASPECT Studios were awarded the contract to design the public domain. Lendlease were appointed to manage the design and construction of the works. This process included the preparation of new and more detailed designs following further consultation with the university faculties, Aboriginal Elders, working groups and student representatives.
Designs were submitted to the National Capital Authority for approval and developed to a level suitable for construction, with construction fast tracked between July 2017 and February 2019. The works were completed in time for students to move into the new accommodation at the start of the 2019 University year.
The Kambri project brings a concentration of uses to the centre of the campus to establish a precinct that is legible and inviting across day and night. Sullivans Creek (which runs through the University) has been reinvigorated with substantial areas of native planting and a generous cycle and pedestrian pathway. The pathway creates a strong north-south link through the campus, connecting to the broader open space network.
Furthermore, cultural, dining, sports, teaching, health and student accommodation buildings have been arranged around a central open space in the campus, to create a highly activated precinct. The ground floor uses have been carefully considered to create a range of retail, dining, student services, and cultural and wellbeing functions to optimise social interactions between students, staff and the wider community. The new ground floor will enable ANU to provide an environment for students and staff that prioritises wellbeing.
Working with the Aboriginal Elders, opportunities to celebrate Aboriginal culture were woven into the project, resulting in a strong relationship between the central open space and the creek, new artworks, a cultural garden and signage elements which form the beginning of an Aboriginal culture trail that follows the creek southwards.
In parallel with the strong focus on social sustainability, the project was developed to achieve a One Planet Sustainability rating, which guided decisions around construction methods, materials selections, building orientation, water recycling and plant species selection.
Kambri contributes to a wider appreciation of urban design at the precinct scale through its sensitivity and focus on people and environment. This common thread, carried through all stages of the project, conveys authenticity and demonstrates the potential of urban design to create a strong sense of place and identity.