Student Accommodation Designs Lifting the Architectural Bar

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Artist's impression of Scape's Student Accommodation Development in South Bank. Source: Supplied

Architecture firm Plus Architecture and international student accommodation provider Scape Student Living have partnered up to deliver three new student accommodation projects in Brisbane, equating to more than 2000 purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) beds to the city.

But the partnership’s most noteworthy trait is the unique external facade designs proposed on their Brisbane projects.

The first of these projects, Scape South Bank (designed by Denton Corker Marshall and documented by Plus Architecture) topped out this week, with early works beginning on two further projects – Coronation Drive, Toowong and Tribune Street, South Bank.

Plus Architecture Director Danny Juric explains how the unique lattice screen facade of Scape Tribune Street is reminiscent of the traditional Queenslander sleepout/veranda which provides light and shade to bedrooms.

Artist's impression of Scape's Student Accommodation Development in South Bank. Source: Supplied
Artist’s impression of Scape’s Student Accommodation Development in South Bank. Source: Supplied
Artist’s impression of Scape’s Student Accommodation Development in South Bank. Source: Supplied

The dynamic screen is a translucent perforated mesh that will light up at night to act as a lantern and provide a focal point for the precinct at the end of the adjacent Tafe laneway.

In Toowong, Scape’s newest student accommodation tower at 611 Coronation drive has been inspired by the natural topography and influence of Mt Coot-tha and the Brisbane River

Scape’s newest student accommodation development at Toowong.

“The movement of these natural elements, both physical and visual, drives the stepping patterns of the building facade.”

“Carved into the building from level 7 to 13, this space directly represents an understanding of the suburb, stepping from ‘river to hill’.  Treated as a hill town at a micro scale the terrace is planned for large social gatherings in ‘public squares’ as well as individual study in small scale ‘garden’ refuges,” Danny Juric said.

Indigenous sub-tropical planting has been selected to heighten a sense of place, interspersed with edible planting and herbs for use in the student kitchens.

Both the South Bank and Toowong projects are built from the ground up to facilitate and build community, with dedicated shared spaces that blend with individual and low volume areas to allow residents comfortable interaction in both large and small group settings, as well as privacy.

Matched with Scape’s dedicated 24-hour concierge and year-round activity and event program, residents are drawn out of their individual spaces and encouraged to interact with each other and with the wider city.

“A key issue facing international students and students from rural areas is isolation,” said Associate and Project Architect at Plus Architecture Gareth Hartnell. “Traditional PBSA has often offered nothing more than secure access to strata-title bed sits with an internet café at ground level, which does nothing to help residents engage with their new surroundings.”

In both Coronation Drive and Tribune Street projects community is vertically integrated, and both projects are located to provide unparalleled access to the city and thriving surrounding precincts – not just universities.

“Rather than segment communal areas by floor, creating stratified shared space based on what floor you inhabit, our focus was on creating tower-wide communities,” said Hartnell.

A key part of this revolved around the design of external spaces. Coronation Drive features a unique 7-storey external terrace.

“One of the fantastic aspects of our partnership with Scape is their willingness to explore alternative solutions,” said Juric. “The design of the external terrace spaces is one such example, which radically shifts how residents use and move through the building, encouraging vertical integration and physical activity.”

Both Plus and Scape dismissed fears of a glut in Brisbane student accommodation.

“In all markets in Australia as purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) developments come to market there will be digestion issues as students transition from homestay and low quality residential property offerings,” said Managing Director of Scape Australia, Stephen Gaitanos.

“With less than one PBSA bed for every nine students projected for Brisbane, even accepting all projected developments are delivered, the demand in Brisbane is more than double the demand ratio in London which is approaching 1 PBSA room for every 4 students. Scape’s 3000 London bedrooms have been 100% full every year of operation since their first opening five years ago.”

“What we’re experiencing in Brisbane is the sector catching up to PBSA rates in other Australian cities,” said Plus Architecture Director Danny Juric. “Student accommodation in Brisbane has historically meant share-houses or lower quality on campus accommodation, and this shift is taking advantage of the demand for something different.”

“Scape + Plus are designing student accommodation offerings which are attractive not just for their amenity, but also their great city and entertainment precinct locations,” said Scape Development Director Gary Eckersall. “This will bring direct economic benefit, and help keep Brisbane vibrant and diverse.”

“Really, this is a sector shift to a true build-to-rent model, which will make Brisbane an even more attractive choice for students, while reducing pressure on the residential rental market.”

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  • These student accommodation units are going to be the slums of the future very small cramped designs. When they can’t fill them with students who is going to live there.

  • Is the Hilton going to turn into a slum? The same could be said for any hotel in any city of the world. Brisbane is a growing city and our universities are some of the best in the world. We have more students coming to Brisbane every year to take advantage of our highly ranked education system and an international provider like Scape is exactly what is needed to support these students now and in the future.

  • So who’s going to pay for the infrastructure required in Toowong to accommodate 500 already being built, plus the three towers where Coles is currently, plus the three flute towers on the old ABC site, plus the new Student accommodation in Brisbane Street near Coles … ???

    Thanks Councillor Simmonds … hope your getting lots of donations (from whoever) for you to run for the federal seat of Ryan … wink wink say no more … ha ha ha.

  • Jane – inclined to agree about inadequate infrastructure planning – however, who is going to pay? Developments of this scale would attract around $2mill in council infrastructure charges. So the answer usually is the developers.

    • The BCC has halved infrastructure costs for student accomodation so in this case it will be the taxpayers and ratepayers paying for the infrastructure.

  • I had these concerns to as have witnessed a lot of slum type dwellings off the back of as huge development – Sydney 2000 – Homebush is an exquisite example! A quick look at the Scape living site suggests they have internal advantages for those who live in their apartments and are are aware of offerings beyond the students tenancy.

  • It’s mostly Chinese and some Indian money, yes there is a lot of it and be very grateful it’s coming here to Brisbane and not elsewhere.

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