UNSW Kensington Colleges by Bates Smart
Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing: National Award
Australian Institute of Architects
A large university housing project for five colleges – two new and three originals steeped in history – UNSW Kensington Colleges is a striking collection of buildings that visually complement one another while each maintaining a sense of identity and acknowledging their past.
Early collaboration between the architect, builder and client led to a durable, cost-effective concrete structure with brick infill system. Brick is the hero of the project, with colour and texture artfully curated to create organic patterning that differentiates the colleges. The faceted facade reflects the range of room types and forms shared balcony spaces, encouraging social connection between students. Thoughtful consideration is paid where particular colleges require additional privacy and separation for students.
Internally, corridors and apartments are modest and efficient with tutorial and communal spaces provided on each floor. Vast open-plan communal kitchens on the ground floor offer an engaging area for students to gather over a meal or relax in the lounge. These carefully considered facilities provide students with the support network of the university while instilling in them a great sense of independence.
Buildings and landscaped courtyards have been intelligently arranged to step with the topography and create an urban precinct to which the ground-floor teaching space, student services and common areas open out. An exemplar student housing project, UNSW Kensington Colleges demonstrates how the combination of a strong, singular design idea and restrained material palette can lead to a rich architectural outcome.
Read the project review by Andrew Nimmo from Architecture Australia.