Is this the best student accommodation in New South Wales, Australia?
When the winners of the 2019 New South Wales (NSW) Architecture Awards were announced earlier this month, there was one underdog recipient that rose to victory, standing out in a sea of luxury apartment blocks and high-end hotels in the student accommodation space.
Student accommodation hasn’t historically been a sector known for its beautiful architecture, often being more associated with practical built-for-purpose structures rather than inspiring lodgings. But that is all changing and leading the charge is the worthy recipient of the Architecture Award, Iglu Redfern in Sydney.
Located at the corner of Regent and Redfern streets, the student accommodation conversion is situated near three universities – Sydney University, University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Notre Dame. It only opened its doors in February this year but has quickly become one of the most popular student housing buildings in the country. And it’s easy to see why.
Designed by architects Bates Smart, the student accommodation is an amalgamation of 10 two-storey terraces with a tower rising above. Designers ensured there are a lot of communal areas with shared facilities where students can congregate, as well as a lively streetscape that lifts the neighbourhood and makes the city-centre location a welcoming place to live.
There are also plenty of spaces for students to study and the studio apartments and four, five and six-bedroom apartment clusters provide a quiet area to escape the crowds.
It was all of this considered together that convinced the judges at the NSW Architecture Awards that the building was stand-out and worthy of recognition.
“The quality of the spaces is amazing,” said the chair of the judges’ jury, Conrad Johnston of Fox Johnston.
“They had a simple idea of amalgamating terrace houses and putting shops into them on the ground level, which has saved the heritage feel of the area.
“They saved that facade and then introduced great communal spaces for the students where they can meet other people and be social, which is so important when you’re looking at issues of mental health for students.”
While Iglu Redfern may have been a standout win this year, we can expect this to become the norm as student accommodation continues to boom and presents a lucrative investment opportunity for developers.
According to an April report from Real Estate experts Savills, global investment into student accommodation totalled US$17.1 billion in 2018, the third year in a row that volumes exceeded US$16 billion.