Australia's leading innovation precinct © Woods Bagot; Australia's leading innovation precinct © Woods Bagot;

University of Melbourne, Melbourne Connect, Victoria

Evolving the campus experience for better student and community outcomes

Melbourne’s new innovation precinct, Melbourne Connect, is set to drive social and economic transformation, and create a progressive future for the University of Melbourne, its students and broader community. 

Delivering a dynamic blend of uses – Melbourne School of Engineering, student accommodation, lab/research space, commercial, child care, and a flagship Science Gallery – Melbourne Connect will create a vibrant hub where staff, students, researchers, businesses and start-up companies will come together to tackle major societal challenges, such as food security, changing technologies and urbanisation.

The precinct of 75,800m2 (GFA) will be formed by three separate buildings, with the school of engineering and industry spaces connected by a ‘superfloor event and collaboration space above ground structure (with open space at its heart) and a precinct wide basement substructure.

Project Summary

40-50% estimated energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions reductions

3buildings (10, 5 and 13 storeys) united by the 'superfloor' structure

3,000direct jobs including 2,500 job in commercial and scientific industries

Uniting three into one

Behind the new precincts façade will lie  a ‘superfloor’ which will provide meeting, theatre and workshop spaces and will connect a 5-storey cross laminated timber building (for commercial use and childcare), a 10-storey building (housing Melbourne School of Engineering and commercial spaces), and a 13-storey student accommodation building. 

Our comprehensive, deep and rich analysis and modelling combined with our detailed design for the ‘superfloor’ will minimise the issues faced when connecting buildings (with different structural systems), such as independent behaviour to seismic, wind and surface temperature.


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Seamless connections for superfloor

With an in-depth understanding of how each building behaves in wind, seismic events and temperature extremes, we are designing a solution for the unifying ‘superfloor’ which stays within the architectural requirements, creating greater overall structural efficiency and robustness to seismic and wind. Our design of bespoke joints between the buildings, and removal of permanent movement joints at ground level, will reduce complexities during construction, and will reduce maintenance issues and leakage during the buildings’ operational period.

Using our global experience and vested understanding of best practice in Education facilities, we are thrilled to help bring to life the next generation of spaces and places which nourish and create the best learning experiences, and foster vibrant, connected communities for students, staff and visitors. ”

Finola Reid Finola Reid Principal | Technical Services – Australasia Leader

A global benchmark in timber building design

The 5-storey timber building will represent a benchmark for Arup globally, breaking new ground in the level of detailed design achieved on this project. Drawing on Arup’s global timber expertise, the timber building will use pre-fabricated structural timber Glulam column and beam and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) floor. This will form a complex geometry which would have been challenging and costly to construct. Using a mixed software suite, our team has managed to retain this intricate geometry, yet reconfigure the CLT floor, beam and column arrangement to simplify construction, minimise risk on site, and reduce cost for the client.

Sustainability strategy overview for Melbourne Connect precinct © Arup Sustainability strategy overview for Melbourne Connect precinct © Arup
A key priority for our team is creating a sustainable design solution which reduces demand for energy, reduces energy consumption and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Our rapid digital approach is being applied across our multidisciplinary services … the speed at which we can process enables us to offer the architect several different options, rather than just one. ”

Richard Stokes Richard Stokes Associate | Sustainable Buildings – Victoria Leader

Reducing energy costs through sustainable design

Melbourne Connect is being designed to significantly improve upon standard practice in Australia with estimated energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the order of 40-50%.

Arup’s strategies for energy will reduce the demand for energy through massing, façade, tenant collaboration, reduce energy consumption through designing energy efficient building services including LED lighting and a precinct heating and cooling network, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a significant provision of on-site renewable energy. This strategy is integral in achieving the project’s ambitious NABERS, Green Star and on-site renewable energy targets.

Renewables and air tightness testing

Arup’s team investigated renewable energy generation and the precincts resulting 370 KW of PV located on the roof will be one of the biggest PV arrays in Melbourne, delivering in conjunction with geothermal -10% of the whole precincts energy consumption.

To meet the precinct’s air tightness requirements, we are identifying weaknesses in the envelope of the building, and working collaboratively with the project team and contractors to implement solutions which will maintain air tightness. Our design will contribute to reducing overall energy consumption and improving air quality.


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A gallery space to inspire, involve and transform curious minds

At the corner of Grattan and Swanston streets, the Science Gallery Melbourne requires a high impact structural and façade design which shapes a direct sense of engagement with the precinct.

Science Gallery Melbourne, Australia's leading innovation precinct © Woods Bagot Science Gallery Melbourne, Australia's leading innovation precinct © Woods Bagot

Minimising the number of columns and maximising ceiling height is imperative for this space. Arup’s design will reduce the depth of the structure (floor thickness) by 40%, by adding post tensioning cable into the structure. This reduces structural weight and improves the foundation system for the building.

Our team altered the geometry for the steel structure of the feature stairs (within architectural limits), reducing member sizes and materials by 40%, achieving a significant cost saving for the client, minimising complexities in the construction phase and improving the aesthetic and experience for gallery users.


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A stand-out facade

Utilising rapid digital prototyping techniques, the team will optimise each façade to engage the way both architects intended while also meeting the University’s aspirations for a façade which is engaging, innovative and engineered. The benefit of our digital prototyping approach is realised through a step change in ‘real time’ design, a rationalisation of material use, and delivery of sustainable energy efficient solutions.

The resulting façade design will consist of a few façade types that are applied to varying extents across the building including shade ‘hoods’ and glazed ‘prisms’. Our collaborative design will deliver optimised levels of daylight and comfort, maximise views towards the city, reduce glare, shade the glass and minimise energy consumption.

Australia's leading innovation precinct © Woods Bagot Australia's leading innovation precinct © Woods Bagot