2019 Melbourne Design Awards

spaces, objects, visual, graphic, digital & experience design, design champion, best studio & best start-up, plus over 40 specialist categories

accelerate transformation, celebrate courage, growing demand for design

Image Credit : Peter Clarke



Project Overview

This project is a rich celebration of community and student. Through the architectural it expresses the client’s commitment to the well-being of residents and their long-term aspirations towards a net-zero carbon future. The architecture is bold and confident. The interior palette considered the domesticity of is brief with care, warmth, and detail.

Project Commissioner

Monash University

Project Creator

Jackson Clements Burrows Architects


JCB Team
Graham Burrows
Simon Topliss
Danielle Pacella
Gretel Stent
Thom McCarthy
Joe Shepherd
Richard Wong

Monash University

Project Brief

Gillies Hall, at Monash University’s Peninsula Campus, is the first building on campus to respond to the aspirations of Monash University’s Peninsula Campus Masterplan.
This bold new addition sited at the highest point on campus pushes the pastoral care model that has defined on-campus accommodation at Monash University and achieves some impressive firsts for low energy buildings in Australia – largest Passive House certified (PHC) building in the southern hemisphere and Australia’s first student accommodation built to the Passive House standard.
Gillies Hall provides 150 self-contained studio student apartments, two ground-floor apartments for residential support and ground-floor common spaces for all 250 on-campus residential students.
The project’s architectural layout and low energy performance are a continuation of the strong relationship and trust established between JCBA and Monash Residential Services (MRS) for the Clayton Campus’s Turner Hall project. From the outset, MRS asked JCBA to explore Passive House certification, a design standard for ultra low energy buildings, and JCBA pushed the client brief to further strengthen the community attributes of the building.
Monash University is committed to fostering community and has a strong pastoral care initiative, JCBA wanted to take every design opportunity to find spaces where people could run into each other and meet.

Project Innovation/Need

The project wears its green credentials proudly through the use of cross laminated timber (CLT) structure. The CLT structure is exposed and celebrated throughout. Its strongly influenced the interior design language and sequesters carbon for the life span of the project. CLT is a robust, structural product with a warmth that typically used concrete can’t achieve. The benefits of CLT included faster and safer construction, a low carbon solution, and realising the architectural opportunities of working with a warm, natural material. The CLT panels were fabricated offsite, and fewer workers were required on site than for conventional concrete panel construction. The carbon costs of producing and shipping the CLT panels were more than offset through forestry carbon sequestration. As one of the only a handful of completed CLT buildings in Australia the construction method bravely innovates a pathway forward for an exciting new industry.

Design Challenge

The main reason for choosing CLT panels was as a low carbon solution to meet the Passive House requirements. The challenge was whether, a PHC building could be delivered economically and in time for students to move in for the start of the 2019 academic year. The stringent requirements for PHC mean that passive design and architectural design are inevitably integrated. The challenges included designing new details for a new construction methodology and fire engineering. JCBA worked closely with fire engineers and the CFA to achieve compliant fire ratings for exposed CLT walls. Overall, the project required a team commitment to achieve PHC – a committed client, and a strongly engaged consultant team.


Achieving Passive House Certification that this project is truly ground-breaking. The largest project certified in Australian and one of the few attempted in a ‘warm’ climate, the design had to completely re-think the business as usual model of Australian construction. Whilst the gross extra over cost of delivering the project to Passive House Certification was about 10% greater than for a conventional concrete panel building, the benefits to the University were obvious - low energy consumption for the life span of the building and high-quality indoor environments for residents.

This award celebrates the design process and product of planning, designing and constructing form, space and ambience that reflect functional, technical, social, and aesthetic considerations. Consideration given for material selection, technology, light and shadow.
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