Old Quadrangle Redevelopment Project, Australia

Restored to its former glory, Old Quad re-emerges as the heart of the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus

With its iconic archways and bold architectural presence, the Old Quadrangle (‘Old Quad’) is the oldest building on the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus and endures as the strongest connection to the University’s fledgling years.

Originally built in classic Tudor style as a teaching space for students and a home for professors, the building has supported and sustained the University’s growth over the past 164 years.

Today, the Old Quad has embarked on a new chapter, with the completion of an extensive restoration project which has seen the north areas of the east wing largely returned to their original layout, reaffirming Old Quad’s place as the cultural, civic, engagement and ceremonial heart of the University.

This video is made available courtesy of The University of Melbourne

Aurecon was the project manager and superintendent for the restoration works that rebuilt many of the building’s original features, including high quality finishes such as a grand staircase, conservation and replication of moulded timber panels, lath and plaster ceilings, bespoke cabinetry, as well as quality fixtures and fittings. The work had been commissioned as a part of the University’s commitment to the quality conservation and restoration of its historic buildings.

The refurbished building has created flexible exhibition and event spaces, and will enable greater use of the facility while achieving the conservation of the original detail of the building.

Navigating the complex redevelopment

Old Quad was an example of a complex redevelopment project with many competing challenges faced by the project team including:

  • Application of Passive House solar design principles to a heritage-listed project, when traditionally only applied to new buildings
  • The ageing conditions of the building’s original features
  • The building being listed on the Victorian Heritage Register and all works, both internal and external, subject to permit approval from Heritage Victoria
  • Cost pressures of refurbishing a heritage building
  • Accessibility to the site

Site challenges were overcome by a strong team presence on-site to lead the learning, understanding, construction and issue resolution aspects of the project.

Applying Passive House principles

Passive House is a voluntary but internationally-recognised building standard to achieve high-quality, low-energy indoor environments, and is starting to gain traction in Australia with engineers, designers and builders. Its foundation is that a building can be used in the traditional way of opening doors and windows when required, with the indoor environment built to a high standard so that the building manages internal health and comfort in a sustainable way.

Aurecon oversaw the management of the Passive House building design application, together with the costs and stakeholder engagement framework, supporting the University’s aspirations to implement this forward-thinking sustainability approach.

Advocating for clear communication

With an analytical and client-focused approach, Aurecon strove to achieve a best-for-client outcome that involved multiple stakeholders in the decision-making process of the Old Quad refurbishment.

We promoted the practice of open and regular reporting throughout the course of the project, addressing key activities and decisions on-site to ensure that oversight of construction works was visible to the client. This meant that issues were resolved promptly.

With detailed project analysis and control, expectations around completion were effectively managed and took into consideration the latent conditions and buildability challenges of this historic building. Valid extensions in the programme were minimised with detailed reviews of progress and working with the contractor to reduce the impact on the client.

Aurecon was able to draw on its previous projects with the University of Melbourne and apply lessons learned to Old Quad. The Melbourne School of Design, Arts West and Life Sciences (Stage 1) projects, managed by Aurecon, provided insights into the University’s insistence on forward-thinking sustainability and design, and their wish to have clear communication.

It proved to be especially important when the issue of site accessibility came up for Old Quad.

Managing accessibility on a complex site

More than 50 000 pedestrians move through the heart of the Parkville campus each day and, for the project, it was the only access point to reach the Old Quad. This meant that the refurbishment of Old Quad required a clear focus on safety to manage pedestrian and vehicle movements on a daily basis.

Making safety the forefront of the project, Aurecon ensured clear communication with stakeholders to bring and remove materials and equipment from the site in a safe manner.

The renovations in the Old Quad uncovered the history that the University of Melbourne is built upon. It is providing a vibrant and welcoming change to the campus community and the provision of an exhibition and gallery area is enabling it to host a plethora of events including public lectures, seminars, performances and ceremonies.

Award winning

The project has won the following award:

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