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Creating a home away from home at The University of Wollongong

Dec 9, 2020

2020 saw a project four years in the making come to a stunning conclusion.

Programmed Building Services took on the complete refurbishment of the International House, University of Wollongong’s oldest residential college in 2016. The project, culminating earlier this year, saw a complete refurbishment and refresh of over 225 Student Rooms, including the large commercial kitchen, shared kitchen, multiple common spaces, dining area, offices spaces and exterior façade.

As an affiliate of 16 International Houses worldwide, accepting students from hundreds of different cultures and backgrounds, the Building Projects team was passionate about creating spaces where students could socialise, study and relax. The aim – to create a home away from home for all students at the college.

Built in the 1960s, the college featured dated mid-century hues and fittings which required a top-to-bottom refresh to better suit the needs of its students. Its safety standards were also stuck in the 60s, and urgently needed to be brought to meet modern compliance. Despite modernising the college, the team ensured the building’s unique 60s architecture shone through.  Using parts of the old building (such as exposing the beautiful rafters in the Games Room) to pay homage to the history of the building, and create warm spaces filled with character.

A staged approach to the refurbishment was carried out to ensure that resident occupancy remained at maximum capacity for over 90% of the project. It was imperative that student accommodation and services remained open with minimal disruption over the four-year-refurbishment programme.

It was also important to the University that they chose a company able to complete the work to the highest standard, within budget and schedule. Selecting a company with the utmost respect for the health and safety of staff, students and visitors was also crucial. Programmed Building Services provided the end-to-end project management the University sought. The Building Services team designed, refurbished and delivered to smoothly meet the University’s exacting standards throughout the four years.

However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing over the four years. Project Manager, Beau Cropper commented that there were challenges in bringing the building to suitable modern safety compliance and technological standards. Yet, design and installation of an Occupant Warning System and updating the fire evacuation system was necessary for the safety of future student residents.

Leanne Robinson, Student Residence Manager commented on Project Manager Beau Cropper’s and Programmed’s outstanding performance throughout the refurbishment, stating “Mr Cropper’s extensive knowledge of the building trade, his expertise in programmed and project management, attention to detail and his overall work ethic are exceptional. He has constantly delivered major projects ahead of schedule, and always to the highest specifications and standards.”

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