Building has begun on a $100 million Victorian mass timber project.

Construction has recently started on a 624-bed student accommodation project at La Trobe University’s Melbourne campus. Part of the university’s $5bn Bundoora campus transformation plan, the accommodation consists of two large mass-timber buildings, designed by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects and built by Multiplex.

Set into an area of natural beauty, the design incorporates most of the existing trees into the placement and shape of the design. Much of the building is being prefabricated offsite, making construction at the university quick and relatively noise-free, which will lessen the disruption to students, locals and the wildlife that also calls the uni grounds home.

Each building will consist of a series of apartments (single to six-bed), including 13 accessible units, and common amenities spaces. New technologies will help to make the buildings sustainable and environmentally conscious spaces.

“Our exceptional new accommodation will enable more of our students to live on campus, close to where they are studying,” said La Trobe’s Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar. He also highlighted the 500 direct and indirect jobs that will be created by the development.

The environmental focus of the project comes as part of La Trobe’s plans to become Victoria’s first zero-emissions university by 2029. In a separate announcement 10 days out from the Federal Election, Dewar welcomed a Labor promise for $5 million towards a rooftop solar farm at the Bundoora campus.

This funding will speed up the installation of 6775 solar panels on 27 buildings, which is due to begin this year. It will equate to the capacity of more than 400 home solar systems and supply up to half the campus’ daily power usage.

Dewar welcomed the announcement, “La Trobe recognises the social, environmental and economic importance of reducing our carbon footprint.

“We’ve already been quietly making substantial progress; almost 3000 solar panels have been installed on rooftops at regional campuses in Shepparton, Bendigo and Albury Wodonga, and are already reducing emissions,” he added.

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