Trinity College is a contemporary addition to the historic University of Melbourne Parkville campus. The rebuild of the college aimed to be a striking legacy project with a high quality design, ultimately adding to the next chapter of campus history.

What is immediately apparent is the reference to the heritage elements, and the sense of history and place that’s drawn together in the highly contemporary design. The many subtle contextual links between old and new are a hallmark of this brilliant design by Hayball.

For instance, the distinctive serrated façade and the brick patternation not only create a striking first impression of the five-storey student residence, but are also critical in connecting the north-east campus precinct to the broader college. The building’s stunning geometry is a clever reference to the neo-gothic architecture on campus – much of the geometry drawing from the gothic shapes and rooflines, window frame detailing and triangulated breakup of glass.

“There is so much detail of the heritage architecture that we were able to reinterpret in the angular or serrated façade geometry,” Sarah Buckeridge, director at Hayball and project director, said.

The selection of Krause Emperor bricks in Grampian Blue has accentuated texture in the façade, with their handcrafted quality implanting contemporary architecture within the historic setting.

“The design had a strong geometry to it with the serrated façade, and the Krause Emperor bricks added to that strong geometry, and the raked mortar joint also adds a depth and shadow to the façade. We wanted something which, within the detail, had that sense of craft, and using the Emperor bricks emphasised that,” Buckeridge explained.

“I do love the bricks. It’s their ability to bring into contemporary architecture that sense of layering of history and that sense of craft that’s often difficult to achieve with contemporary building technology; and I think that sense of craft is evident in the design and we are very proud of that.”

Complementing the Krause Emperor bricks, the external palette includes powdercoated aluminium ventilation panels­­ to add another design detail as well as steelwork around the base of the building. Existing materials salvaged from the site were re-used to provide that critical contextual link. These included sandstone from the Vatican Building (constructed in 1925) in the perimeter garden walls, along with brickwork from Wynne Cottage, Dorothy and Moorhouse in the paving, battered walls, new brickwork landscape inlays and seats.

Krause Emperor bricks continue into the lobby around the lift wells, inviting the rich materiality inside. This delivers continuity and creates somewhat of a breezeway, providing natural ventilation around the central circulation stairs and lift.

The beautiful material and design contrasts set the design apart. Most evident is the contrast of the Junior Common Room on the ground floor with the brickwork. The room’s lightweight steel and glass structure placed beautifully under an Oak tree, just like a garden pavilion, sits in elegant contrast to the building’s masonry expression.

Clearly evident throughout the spectacular design is the sense of home and community. Hayball has, indeed, created a nurturing place to live, learn and socialise. After all, the building is the students’ home, and the interior design speaks to that in volumes. A range of communal facilities – for both socialising and studying – has been designed in different scales to become the heart of university life outside the classroom, building an inclusive community to complement the academic experience.

This build is the College’s most significant capital works project to date, and the first to be completed as part of the redevelopment framework developed by MGS Architects in 2018.

“It marks a new chapter in the history of the College and one that will be sure to support and enrich the students’ lives and experiences at Trinity,” Buckeridge concluded.

Photographer: Tom Roe