University of Tasmania announces architect consortium to design and develop campuses

COLLABORATION: Senator David Bushby, UTAS's Rufus Black, deputy mayor Rob Soward, JWA's Jane Williams and Peter Gutwein. Picture: Phillip Biggs
COLLABORATION: Senator David Bushby, UTAS's Rufus Black, deputy mayor Rob Soward, JWA's Jane Williams and Peter Gutwein. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Designs for Launceston’s anticipated University of Tasmania campus will be revealed by the end of the year.

UTAS announced the architects for the project at a launch event in Launceston on Monday.

Victorian architect firm John Wardle will head a team of architects to bring the Northern Transformation project to life, which includes the ambitious redevelopments of the Burnie and Launceston campuses.

Tasmanian architects 1+2 Architecture, Room11 and Philp Lighton will make up the state component of the architectural consortium.

University of Tasmania vice-chancellor Professor Rufus Black said the appointment of the architects marked an exciting stage for the project as the promise of a transformative new presence for education in two of the state’s northern cities begins to be realised.

“This is truly a partnership of great talents – Room11 and John Wardle Architects were the only Australian practices invited to exhibit at the International Architecture Biennale in Venice this year,” Professor Black said.

“As a team, these architects bring world-leading skills and expertise and a local focus and shared passion for Tasmania.”

Professor Black said designs for the new campuses would be “due at the end of the year”.

All three Tasmanian architect firms are University of Tasmania alumni.

Professor Black said the architects were chosen via a tender process, but the community also had input into which ones were selected.

“We invited the community to review each of the firms and the firms we’ve chosen are the ones the community panel was the set of firms they thought would do the best job for this,” he said.

The Northern Transformation is a $300 million project that will see new campuses built at West Park in Burnie and Inveresk in Launceston in a partnership between the university and local, state and federal governments.

Announcement welcomed

The launch was attended by Senator David Bushby, Tasmanian Treasurer Peter Gutwein and City of Launceston acting mayor Rob Soward among other representatives from each level of government.

“Relocating the UTAS Launceston campus to Inveresk is a key component of the Launceston City Deal signed by the Commonwealth Government, Tasmanian Government and City of Launceston in 2017,” Mr Gutwein said.

“The City Deal sets out a long-term plan that will deliver significant benefits for the region that will shape not just the future of Launceston, but also the north of the state.”

The state government is investing $75 million towards both the Launceston and Burnie campuses.

Senator Bushby said the campus redevelopment wouldn’t have happened without a strong case by UTAS and the community involvement.

“It’s been easy to take this argument to Canberra because the argument was well made,” he said.

Mr Soward said the campus redevelopment would be more than just the bricks and mortar campus and would set Launceston up for a prosperous future.

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Community focus

Senator David Bushby, Jane Williams of John Wardle Architects, acting Launceston Mayor Rob Soward, Tasmanian Treasurer Peter Gutwein, University of Tasmania Vice-Chancellor Rufus Black, Meaghan Dwyer of John Wardle Architects, Fred Ward of 1+2 Architecture, Thomas Bailey of Room 11, Cath Hall of 1+2 Architecture, Tom Floyd and Andrew Floyd of Philp Lighton Architects.

Senator David Bushby, Jane Williams of John Wardle Architects, acting Launceston Mayor Rob Soward, Tasmanian Treasurer Peter Gutwein, University of Tasmania Vice-Chancellor Rufus Black, Meaghan Dwyer of John Wardle Architects, Fred Ward of 1+2 Architecture, Thomas Bailey of Room 11, Cath Hall of 1+2 Architecture, Tom Floyd and Andrew Floyd of Philp Lighton Architects.

1+2 Architecture will take the lead on the Launceston campus and directors Fred Ward and Cath Hall said they were hoping to hit the ground running.

“This project is important for Tasmania so we are very pleased to be involved,” Mr Ward said.

1+2 Architecture is based in Hobart, has five architects and is run by three directors, Mr Ward, Ms Hall and Mike Verdouw.

Mr Ward said it was early to tell but there was the potential for their business to expand to handle the demand of the project.

“It depends on what role we are to play, we have some role to play in design but it depends,” he said.

“We would love to see that happen, to be able to put on more architects.”

Mr Ward said 1+2 was a local firm, which specialised in community projects, in the past they have completed the Wellspring Anglican church as well as a lot of schools in Hobart.

This will be the first major project the firm has had in Launceston and Mr Ward said he hoped it would open the door to future works.

Mr Ward and Ms Hall said they would be in Launceston frequently to keep up-to-date with the process. 

Design process

JWA's Jane Williams.

JWA's Jane Williams.

JWA’s Jane Williams, who will be leading the consortium, said the design phase of the project was “fairly rapid”.

“Over the next eight to 12 weeks we will be developing the concept plans to enable the project to be lodged for a development application,” she said.

She said JWA was looking forward to working collaboratively on the project.

“It’s incredibly exciting, as architects, to be involved in a project of this nature, where the physical environment is a contributor and will be a catalyst for change,” she said.

She said she would be working through site-specific issues, such as flood mitigation at Inveresk.

“Here at this site there are flood mitigation issues, that we’d explore with the landscape architects.”

Concept images previously supplied as part of UTAS’ master plan may not be in the final design.

Work done by John Wardle Architects, who has been announced as the principal consultant for the UTAS Northern Transformation project. Picture: supplied

Work done by John Wardle Architects, who has been announced as the principal consultant for the UTAS Northern Transformation project. Picture: supplied

“Certainly we will build on the work that has been done and integrate that but we are a new architectural team, we will come with new ideas,” she said.

JWA is based in Melbourne but has strong links to Tasmania.

The practice worked with the University to design the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies on Hobart’s waterfront, and John’s property on Bruny Island is home to two projects – the Shearers Quarters and Captain Kelly’s Cottage – that have won major architectural prizes at the state, national and international level.

JWA has worked on a number of large-scale tertiary education projects, including the Melbourne School of Design at the University of Melbourne and the Learning and Teaching Building at Monash University.