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La Trobe Uni’s new CLT and glulam building ready for occupancy

April 6, 2021

David Rowlinson


In a move that heralds the opening of the University’s new student accommodation in 50 years, Multiplex has delivered Victoria’s largest mass timber project with almost the entire structure utilising cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glulam (GLT) beams and columns.

The new student accommodation, which had been in planning since pre-COVID times, is the first to be built on campus since the 1970s and forms part of La Trobe University’s ambitious plan to transform its Bundoora campus. Designed by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects, the project has delivered an additional 624 student accommodation beds to the campus across two separate six level buildings linked by common amenities and landscaping. Students have already begun moving in, and more will call the buildings home through the year.

Multiplex Regional Managing Director Graham Cottam said Multiplex is proud to have completed this highly sustainable project.

“We are thrilled to complete this innovative student accommodation for La Trobe University and pave the way for future sustainable design and construction. It’s wonderful to see La Trobe encourage sustainability on its campus and we are proud to deliver the largest new development in Victoria using mass timber,” Mr Cottam said.

According to Multiplex, approximately 1,223 people worked on-site throughout construction and over 2,700 individual mass timber elements were used.

The new student accommodation has achieved a 5 Star Green Star design rating and is targeting a 5 Star Green Star as-built rating, with the modular façade’s thermal envelope dramatically improving energy efficiency. The use of CLT has the capacity to halve the embodied carbon in the building relative to a concrete structure. CLT is also a non-toxic, fire-resistant, renewable resource with a long-life cycle.

The building design incorporates other distinctive environmental features with the placement and shape of the buildings designed to enable most of the existing trees to be retained on site.

Innovative construction techniques used by Multiplex in the delivery of the project include the use of pod bathrooms, ensuring fast delivery and minimising the impact on campus. Throughout the timber construction period, three cranes were used on site to ensure maximum lifting capacity for the structure, prefabricated pods and facade.

Complexities faced during construction included tight scheduling to minimise disruption to the busy live campus environment.

Article first appeared in Built Offsite


David Rowlinson

David hails from Lancashire, England and has lived in Australia since 1994. He studied Architecture at Sheffield University and also has an MBA from Macquarie University and a Master of Marketing from UNSW. Prior to joining Planet Ark in 2016 David was Marketing Manager then CEO of a major Sydney-based manufacturer of modular carpets used in all commercial building applications. His proudest achievement was the development of an industry-leading environmental sustainability agenda, including the unique Earthplus product reuse program.