26 September, 2008

The importance of community

As I indicated in two previous posts (here and here), the New College Village will be more than just a place to live; it will be a strong postgraduate community. There are two main things that will help to ensure that this will be the case: strong programs and a well designed building. Each of these will facilitate opportunities to meet with others. The support programs will include regular social activities; an academic support program consistent with New College traditions; and strong pastoral care support from our well trained Senior Residents led by me as the Master living in the building with my wife Carmen.

The building itself has been carefully designed to facilitate opportunities for interaction that are essential to community building. Our aim in building the New College Village has been to create a unique community for postgraduate students enrolled at UNSW. Many universities around the world attempt to provide designated postgraduate accommodation (although very few in Australia). However, not many universities have seriously given priority to support and community building. Drawing on my own experience living in graduate housing in the USA and my knowledge of the best of the postgraduate colleges in the United Kingdom, I developed a design brief that sought to:

  • create spaces for residents to meet with each other in varied contexts - 2 common rooms on each floor with lounges, coffee making facilities and in 7 of these cable television; a large games room; two outdoor courtyards; a rooftop terrace; a reading room; a business centre; a main common room; a convenience store and barbecue facilities outdoors.
  • a design that ensures that as residents move through the building there are frequent mingling spaces;
  • a location close to key campus-based cafes, restaurants and the graduate lounge (just 100 metres away);
  • while offering residents the privacy of their own rooms and ensuites, all apartments and clusters of studio apartments have generous shared space for sharing meals or just spending time with other residents;
  • a well equipped business centre that is for the use of all residents to support you in your studies;
  • internet services that you'd expect in a modern building with data access to all rooms;
  • external design features that will ensure that this building has outstanding acoustic features, leading to quiet rooms.
The NCV will also have many other things going for it that will make life comfortable and interesting, including air-conditioned rooms; a special membership option for the outstanding University gymnasium and indoor pool (just 200 metres from the front door); a bus stop at the front door that provides access to all the sights of Sydney; some of the world's finest beaches a 20 minute walk away or a short direct bus ride.

Added to the obvious strengths of the building, and the many programs that will support community life, will be the 319 different people who will all be at UNSW to learn from each other. You will be living among postgraduate students from every Australian state and territory and ever continent of the world. You will live in a community unlike any you will have known in the past or will join in the future. This is a rare opportunity.

If you'd like more information the NCV website will give you extra information and will allow you to make an online application.


16 September, 2008

Fit-out well on the way

We are within 12 weeks of completion of the New College Village. Progress has been good on all fronts. Only Level 7 has significant work to be done with most walls completed and services well advanced. On lower floors the extent of the fit-out varies with elevation. Levels 1 and 2 are almost complete with carpet laying to commence in apartments and studios soon. Most kitchens are now fitted up to Level 4 and painting is well advanced on lower levels. Tiling to bathrooms is completed to Level 3 and underway up to Level 6. The rooftop services are also well advanced with air conditioning and hot water units currently being installed. External finishes are also well advanced with all three surface types under way. The photos below give some sense of the progress to date. We expect completion by the 20th December and our first guests by the 5th January 2009.

Above: View of the southern Level 3 corridor

Above: One of the apartment shared kitchens nearing completion

Above: Services being installed on the roof with the city skyline in the distance


04 September, 2008

A 'Skybridge' to New

The New College Village has been developed by New College. One of the wonderful characteristics of the New College community is its sense of fun. Each year it plans and mounts a Revue of the year's activities which is always a great production and is open to the College, University and the public. A revue is meant to be an amusing or satirical commentary on life on the College. One of the items on the program last week was 'The Skybridge'. It was one resident's 'tongue in cheek' comment on how we might bring the old New College and the new "New College Village" together. What do you think?

Not sure if this is an engineering possibility! As for the cost, I'm sure it would be well beyond us. Thanks to David Butterworth for letting us use his image. For the record, the Revue was a wonderful celebration of the talent of the College community. Perhaps the New College Village will have its own Revue in 2009 in the Main Common Room.