Flinders University’s new $63 million Flinders Plaza and Student Hub will officially launch in late March as part of the university’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
Fitting perfectly into the unique landscape of the Flinders University campus, the new Plaza and Student Hub partially responds to feedback from the students and staff. The Hub brings together many facilities including student associations and clubs, a retail precinct, food and beverage outlets as well as study and relaxation areas. It includes sustainability features such as natural ventilation and a 100KW solar panel in the union extension area, and adjacent to the Hub is a 2,000-seat amphitheatre featuring a giant LED screen. Designed by Woods Bagot, working with Flinders University’s Building and Property division, the Hub features an impressive range of new restaurants including Paul Baker’s (Botanic Gardens Restaurant) new eatery Alere, Parwana’s new outlet and a bar run by Burger Theory’s Dan Mendelson and Robert Dean. David Banks, Director of Building and Property at Flinders, says his team engaged early with Woods Bagot on this project and were the voice of the students. “The strong messages [from the students] were real food and beverage and learning spaces that vary from quiet to noisy,” Banks says. “It was about rejuvenating campus life which is about the bar and the student-owned spaces if you like. Everything that they sought has been achieved. “It has integrated a whole lot of things in the campus: the library, food and beverage, student learning spaces and it’s given the campus much-needed open heart surgery and created some great places and spaces.” Woods Bagot’s Milos Milutinovic says a key component of their brief was responding to the feedback from students. “Some of the keys points were having comfortable seating for relaxation and socialising, and flexible multipurpose spaces,” Milutinovic says. “We’ve created a multipurpose room, it can be a relaxation space or a lecture theatre … It’s all about increasing the types of different spaces.” Milutinovic says the project was about realising the potential of the campus, and focusing on Flinders’ advantage over the city-based campuses: the landscape. “When we initially looked at the project and the architecture on-site, it was very much based on an internal plaza concept, so the buildings looked inwards rather than outwards. The site is quite stunning, so it’s about turning that around, saying, ‘how can we embrace this landscape, the views?’ It was about opening the buildings up and looking outside, drawing that landscape through.” Another objective was creating an integrated student and staff hub to build a sense of community. “We looked at this facility as something that’s equal for both the staff and the students, where they would be able to connect. Where students would have places to study, to relax and to connect with their peers to share ideas, so that they wouldn’t only be here for the duration of their lecture. They would be here throughout the afternoon and into the night. Having these facilities encourages learning and connectivity between the students.” The Flinders University Plaza and Student Hub officially opens on Friday, March 18. flinders.edu.au