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    Translucent, spiralled “Gateway” building unveiled as part of $260m UTAS masterplan

    Kirsty Sier

    Architecture firm McBride Charles Ryan has unveiled the much-anticipated, $260-million masterplan for the University of Tasmania campus in Launceston. The blueprint – which has been described by the university as “the single largest infrastructure investment in Launceston’s history – includes designs for three new university buildings, as well as the construction of bridge to link two of campus precincts.

    The masterplan is specifically focused on the Inveresk and Willis Street sites of the university. The three new campus buildings are to be spread across these two precincts, with a pedestrian and cycling bridge to link them.

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    McBridge Charles Ryan’s designs for the buildings were revealed earlier this week. They include a ‘Teaching and Learning Building’ on the campus’ old velodrome site; a ‘Science and Innovation Hub’ on Willis Street; and a ‘Gateway Building’ to be constructed adjacent to the existing student accommodation.

    Originally, McBride Charles Ryan’s plans for the campus only accommodated the design of two buildings. However, initial stakeholder feedback expressed concerns over the scale and height of the original concepts, and the Gateway Building was subsequently introduced to enable reduced floorplans.

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    The masterplan reveals radically different design approaches for each of the new buildings, as suited to their respective purposes. The design for the Gateway Building, for instance, shows a spiralling, torch-shaped concrete structure wrapped in a translucent orange mesh. The Science and Innovation Hub is a rounded, glass-clad silver pod set atop a solid concrete base. Features such as orange-coloured ceilings – visible from the outside through the vertical glass panels – and an earth-coloured staircase tie this latter in with the surrounding campus design.

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    McBride Charles Ryan’s masterplan for the University of Tasmania represents the initial stages of what could turn into a broader redevelopment. Another masterplan is currently being developed for the Newnham campus, most of which was built between 1968 and 1974. The campus is described in the completed masterplan as “poorly designed for contemporary learning, teaching and research, under-utilised, with run-down infrastructure and facilities resulting in a poor experience for students”. Two main areas within the Newnham precinct have been identified for redevelopment into open community spaces, such as sports fields and natural reserves.

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    “We are not proposing to build a traditional university campus,” says University of Tasmania vice-chancellor, Peter Rather. “This masterplan outlines a dynamic higher education and research ecosystem as part of the Inveresk precinct and the beating heart of Launceston as a University City for the future.

    “It sets out a vision that incorporates modern, fit-for-purpose teaching and learning spaces a short walk to the CBD, and research facilities focused on distinctive fields of academic endeavour to drive better economic outcomes in northern Tasmania.”

    The $260-million Launceston campus relocation forms part of the Launceston City Deal, a joint venture between the federal government, the Tasmanian government and the City of Launceston. Following community feedback, the university will move to submit a development application to the City of Launceston to gain final approval for the project.

    The McBride Charles Ryan masterplan for the University of Tasmania Launceston campus can be viewed in full here.

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