More student life has come to RMIT’s Bundoora campus with the official opening of Walert House student accommodation.
The building was recently opened by Steve Herbert, Minister for Training and Skills and Minister for International Education, and RMIT University Vice-Chancellor and President Martin Bean CBE.
The new high-tech facility enhances the student experience by integrating learning and living on campus.
Walert House provides 370 beds for students and researchers in a broad mix of accommodation types, built around a technology-rich central hub of common areas that offer dedicated and informal student study, research, living and leisure spaces.
Martin Bean said the facilities – the first on-campus student accommodation at the University’s Melbourne campuses – offered high-quality, affordable and smart housing for students.
“I’m passionate about leveraging the power of technology, the built environment, the research space, and innovative learning and teaching to achieve RMIT’s goals,” Martin said.
“This development does just that and meets a growing need for accommodation and smart contemporary amenities that will improve the experience at Bundoora for a wide range of students.”
Steve Herbert said that the new, smart student accommodation facility offered a fantastic learning environment for students and would be a great attraction for those looking to study in Melbourne.
“This new environmentally friendly building will make RMIT’s Bundoora campus an even more attractive place to study for students both from Victoria, Australia and around the world,” he said.
The opening included an Indigenous smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country performed by Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Ian Hunter.
RMIT is privileged to borrow from the Indigenous Wurundjeri language the name Walert, meaning possum.
Martin Bean said eucalypts and possums were a significant totem for Aboriginal people across the Kulin Nations, and possum skin cloaks were a symbol of cultural heritage.
“Walert House is nestled among gums, including culturally significant scar trees – trees that have had bark removed for canoes, shelters, shields and containers,” he said.
“In the same way that gum trees provide shelter and protection for possums, we’re offering safe and inclusive accommodation for 370 students here at Bundoora.”
RMIT has appointed UniLodge, a specialist operator of student accommodation providing innovative and responsible pastoral care, to manage the facility.
Currently, there are 5500 full-time and 1200 part-time students studying at Bundoora – from vocational education and undergraduate, to postgraduate research. Programs include health and medical sciences, science, engineering and education.
Designed by Richard Middleton Architects, the 11,000m2 facility includes:
- The Village Hall: combines the functions of common room/shared kitchen/ TED Talks and Discursive Zone, plus ample study and relaxation space
- The Living Room: includes dedicated themed game zones – The Den and The Deck
- The Postgraduate Research Hub: dedicated space for postgraduates incorporating a club-style lounge area, with a distinct look and feel, and study niches for individuals or small groups
- The Project Zone: dedicated informal learning space that includes a project room and meeting rooms with video conferencing
- The Pit Stop: provides an opportunity for all students to touch base with reception, guests and each other
- The Gourmet Kitchen: a space for group gourmet cooking on Level One, plus a Veggie Patch on campus to access fresh produce
- Secure resident car park: will feature lighting, CCTV, boom gate access and can be rented by resident students for a fee from RMIT University. There are about 170 car parks provided.
The building is intended to achieve a 6-star Greenstar design rating and will showcase advanced environmental features including:
- Solar-boosted hot water
- Underground stormwater retention tank and separate rainwater storage and reuse
- A large landscape swale – a water harvesting channel built on the contour of the landscape, for passive water management
- Motion detector-controlled lighting/air conditioning in common areas
- An allowance for future connectivity to tri-gen electricity (RMIT Sustainable Urban Precincts Program).
Other features of the new development include an urban plaza to McKimmies Road and integrated landscaping, including sensitive treatment of the Keelbundoora scar trees and significant existing red gums.
Story: Deborah Sippitts