Get ready ANU, your new central precinct is coming soon

24 August 2018

As you peek through the fences and curse at all the construction across campus, it's hard to imagine that by February next year, our new Kambri precinct will finally be opening its doors to students, staff and the broader Canberra community.

If you are not already excited about the possibilities in this new precinct, you should be.

At once an innovative agile teaching space, an entertainment hub, cultural precinct and new welcoming home for thousands of students, our new precinct is quickly going to become 'the' place to be.

On one of the biggest construction projects in the University's history, the distinctive new buildings are quickly taking shape. The countdown is on for the construction fencing to come down in just five months, and the seven new buildings within Kambri to open to ANU and Canberra communities. 

Kambri will blend seamlessly into the city, providing a new entertainment and cultural hub, bustling with vibrant public spaces, cafes, bars, theatre and cinema. 

The new precinct will also provide access to centralised student services, student common rooms, innovative teaching spaces and a grocery store.

Chief Operating Officer Chris Grange, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington and teams across campus have partnered closely to support this project over the last six years. It has involved extensive input from students, staff, alumni and friends along the way - a fantastic example of cross-campus collaboration and project collegiality. Together, something incredible has been created.  

"Building Kambri represents a $260 million dollar investment in the University's future, with vibrant public spaces, new accommodation, flexible teaching spaces and new medical and counselling services set to improve experiences for staff and students," Mr Grange said.   

Professor Hughes-Warrington said Kambri was all about making great spaces to study, work, unwind and socialise. The benefit of the team working together on this precinct together from an early stage has meant that the design has been developed to foster and support activity across spaces. Inspiration was sought from historical documents for ANU and for Canberra, as well as future trends.

"It has been great watching our community embrace the Pop-Up with such warmth, a great example of the kind of vibe and sense of community we expect this new precinct will also bring," Professor Hughes-Warrington said.

"The whole point is to create spaces where students feel comfortable and can make friends. If you make a really friendly place where people want to hang out, they will be happier studying.

"Everything from rubbish bin logistics through to the wood building is directed towards making a place that is happy and healthy."

You can certainly feel happy with the features the revitalised precinct will provide:

  • state-of-the-art teaching and learning facilities
  • environmentally sustainable accommodation for 400 students
  • new health and recreational facilities, including a six-lane 25-metre pool, sauna and spa
  • updated medical facilities to accommodate up to 15 full-time GPs and 12 to 5 full-time psychologists or counsellors
  • a culture and events centre with large and small auditoriums, new cinema for the ANU Film Club and a student theatre
  • food, café, bar and retail services with extended trading hours
  • a centralised student services hub and building for student groups and societies.

If you peer over the fence today, you'll notice significant progress has been made on the wooden structures of the student accommodation and teaching buildings, the gym and, of course, the new pools! 

Even so, it may still be hard to believe we'll really be opening the doors so soon, especially after major setbacks like the floods earlier this year. However, our teams are confident they will deliver the first of our buildings in December and continue openings through to the start of the 2019 academic year.

"What we are seeing now is close to the peak of construction, with up to 400 people working on site," Mr Grange said.

"With multiple trades working at the same time, our construction team is on track for completion by early February 2019."

What's next?

So, what can we expect in the next few months? Unfortunately, you'll still be walking around construction sites for some time yet, especially as works ramp up in the final stages.

Construction within Kambri and along University Avenue will continue until January 2019.

Some changes to fencing along University Avenue near Childers Street will be required to accommodate the removal of steps towards the Law Courts. Access to Childers Street, the Pop-Up Village and Copland Courtyard will be provided by a path next to the Street Theatre.

Let's face it, the construction phase has been somewhat inconvenient for us all, so thanks for everyone's patience and compliance. However, the light is at the end of the tunnel and trust us - it will be worth it.

Can't wait?

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