A major University of Melbourne project has been given the go ahead by the Victorian government to develop the former Royal Women’s Hospital site into a leading innovation precinct.
The project, being developed in partnership with a consortium led by Lendlease, will transform the old site into a $500 million mixed-use precinct, and create more than 3,000 direct jobs and more than 5,000 indirect jobs
Minister for Planning Richard Wynne said the development was approved because it “ticked all the boxes”.
“It’s making good use of a flagship site, it’s driving our reputation as a world leader for education and innovation, it’s creating thousands of jobs and will contribute billions to our economy,” he said.
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The 74,000sq m site will now be redeveloped as a series of five new connecting buildings focused around a central 'Oculus' and publicly-accessible open space.
The precinct’s masterplan and lead design architect is Woods Bagot and will feature office space for start-ups, a “superfloor” collaboration space and a FabLab prototyping facility to test and manufacture new products.
The development will also be home to the Science Gallery Melbourne, accommodate for more than 500 students, retail, childcare and public open spaces.
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Lendlease Urban Regeneration managing director Mark Menhinnitt says the development will regenerate the former hospital site into an open, light and modern precinct, delivering a bold new architectural statement.
“This purpose-built facility will set a new benchmark in education and industry collaboration that meets the highest standards of design and sustainability, while also honouring the site’s heritage and history,” Menhinnitt said.
Woods Bagot principal Hazel Porter said the precinct is unprecedented in Australia.
"For this extraordinary site to support people working together in the creative and entrepreneurial ways, we needed to completely re-think what the project could offer back to both the university and to Melbourne's urban innovation," Porter said.
The consortium delivering the precinct in partnership with the University of Melbourne comprises Lendlease, GIC, Spotless and Urbanest.
The university purchased the former old Hospital site in 2012. It was reported at the time that the old site could fetch up to $60 million, but the university declined to reveal how much it paid.
Construction is set to commence later this year with completion expected by 2020.