Woods Bagot, Hayball to design University of Melbourne ‘innovation precinct’

A consortium led by Lendlease has been appointed to develop University of Melbourne’s “innovation precinct” as part of a program dubbed the Carlton Connect Initiative.

The consortium includes architecture practices Woods Bagot and Hayball and landscape architecture practice Aspect Studios.

The project entails the redevelopment of the former Royal Women’s Hospital site on the corner of Swanston and Grattan streets, which was the site of Australia’s first hospital for women.

“The site will host Australia’s leading innovation precinct where great minds collide to turn big ideas into pioneering solutions,” said Professor Jim McCluskey, deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Melbourne.

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“Researchers, companies, government bodies and community members from different backgrounds and disciplines will be co-located in the precinct and work together to develop innovative products and services, particularly associated with changing technologies, sustainability and resilience.”

A flagship project for the precinct will be the Science Gallery Melbourne, which is being mooted as a “living lab” for young adults, industry partners, scientists and academics. The gallery will host exhibitions and experience to encourage young people’s career aspirations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and the creative industries.

The new precinct will also include office spaces for start-up and corporate partners, collaboration spaces, and a fabrication laboratory (or “FabLab”) prototyping facility to test and manufacture products.

It will also include student accommodation, childcare facilities, shops, cafes and public spaces.

The precinct will build on the precedent set by LAB-14, an initiative started in 2015 that co-located entrepreneurs, industry and academia in close proximity over two and a half years.

The consortium has been appointed to design, construct and maintain the site for 42 years. It is led by Lendlease as developer, builder, co-investor and investment manager of the commercial space, and also includes GIC as a major co-investor in the commercial space, Spotless as the facilities manager, and Urbanest as investor and manager of the student accommodation.

If approved, construction of the Carlton Connect precinct will begin in 2018 and completion is anticipated in 2020.

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