An overview of Melbourne's student accommodation projects

Near on 6,000 new beds for tertiary students are currently in development throughout Melbourne. While there are numerous small-scale buildings also on the radar, the 6,000 figure stems from larger developments championed either directly by the education providers or independent accommodation providers.

Traditionally ultra-high in density and repetitive in their interior/exterior presentation, existing student accommodation buildings to date have been typified by precast concrete exteriors; essentially no frills beasts which often derided.

So what of the current squad and their design prowess or construction progress? Below is a look at the most prominent current student accommodation projects throughout Melbourne.

Leicester Street Student Accommodation

Leicester Street is prison-like in its appearance
  • Project: Leicester Street - Campus Living Villages & Melbourne University
  • Architect: Architectus
  • Contractor: Watpac
  • Features: 648 beds, 5 Star Green Star rating, retail spaces, student plaza
  • Opening date: Semester 1 2016

It's hard to recall any building in the past decade that has been designed to be so rudimentary in its presentation. Unless a mind-bogglingly impressive paint scheme is applied as Leicester Street nears completion, this will rank as one of the poorest buildings Melbourne University have commissioned.

Bundoora Student Accommodation & Victoria University Student Accommodation

Enlivening Bundoora West and Footscray
  • Project: McKimmies Road, Bundoora - RMIT University
  • Architect: Richard Middleton Architects
  • Contractor: Built
  • Features: 370 beds, Talks and Discursive Zone, informal learning spaces, video conferencing, postgraduate club-style lounge, reception
  • Opening date: Semester 1 2016


  • Project: Ballarat Road, Footscray - UniLodge & Victoria University
  • Architect: Nettleton Tribe
  • Contractor: ADCO
  • Features: 504 beds, retail spaces, landscaped areas, theatre, communal kitchen, games room
  • Opening date: Semester 1 2016

Both projects have essentially seen their concrete structures completed with internals and facade fitting is in progress. Articulated and varied, there is a heightened degree of design ability about both projects relative to Leicester Street.

RMIT's Bundoora accommodation features a pre-fabricated box/stepped feature facade manufactured by local firm SBS Group, with little exterior precast in use.

Burwood Student Accommodation

Deakin Burwood's prospective student accommodation building
  • Project: Uganda Street, Burwood - Deakin University
  • Architect: Nettleton Tribe
  • Contractor: ADCO
  • Features: 505 beds, common area, landscaped outdoor area with BBQ, study rooms, car parking
  • Opening date: Trimester 1 2017

Following on from the completion of an initial Burwood student accommodation building during 2012, Nettleton Tribe will partner with Deakin University once more to deliver the latest project. Pre-construction works will commence this week on the facility which sees an punctured atrium design feature. The new build will eventually sit opposite the 2012-built building.

Halls of Residence

Recent aerial perspective of the site sourced via Relive It
  • Project: Scenic Boulevard, Clayton - Monash University
  • Architect: Hayball and Richard Middleton Architects, McBride Charles Ryan, Jackson Clements Burrows
  • Contractor: Brookfield Multiplex
  • Features: 1000 places, common area, landscaped outdoor area with BBQ, study rooms, car parking
  • Opening date: Staged from October 2015

The first of four buildings is scheduled for occupancy within weeks. Valued at $145 million, the development encompasses a combined gross floor area of 40,000 square metres.

Scape to verticality

Scape's Melbourne trio

Dutch-backed UK student living group Scape have grand plans for three central Melbourne locations. 393 Swanston Street and 212-22 La Trobe Street have definitive schemes in place, although the latter is now subject to a planning amendment that would see alterations to both interior and exterior finishes.

Their third site at the former CUB Brewery holds Swanston Street frontage. Purchased earlier in the year, 557-591 Swanston Street and the two CBD projects could yield in excess of 2,500 student beds.

Elizabeth looms large

SJB Architects' take on student living

Still at planning, two additional student living towers have been proposed as part of the expected redevelopment of the City Toyota site. With studio apartments beginning at 24sqm, the dual towers designed by SJB Architects as part of the larger overall development could carry in excess of 670 students dwellings.

Located at 611-681 Elizabeth Street, the project would have residential towers either side and feature a myriad of onsite amenities for both residents and students.


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Aussie Steve's picture

Dare I say they should be called the "dog boxes for students" as many are dreadfully and lack basic amenities such as adequate space, light, ventilation etc...

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