Argo Group Lodges Plans for Fitzroy Student Tower


Argo Group has lodged plans for a nine-storey student accommodation building opposite the Australian Catholic University in Fitzroy.

The 52-room accommodation tower would also include a communal kitchen, co-working spaces and a rooftop garden.

Architecture firm Hassell said it had consulted with proposed student accommodation operator Iglu to ensure the $8-million offering meets market expectations.

While the site at 133 Victoria Parade is not heritage-listed, town planners Human Habitats said the design was sensitive to the heritage of the area, notably the adjacent terraced houses.

“Built form takes cues from its former heritage building and provides a two-storey street wall to match in with the scale of the terraced houses to the east,” the town planning report said.

“The subject site is well positioned to provide additional housing, noting its proximity to significant Melbourne institutions such as the Australian Catholic University, St Vincent’s Hospital and Epworth Freemasons.”

▲ The proposed nine-storey student accommodation tower is positioned close to public transport and opposite the Australian Catholic University. Images: Hassell
▲ The proposed 9-storey student accommodation tower is positioned close to public transport and opposite the Australian Catholic University. Images: Hassell

The building features a two-storey podium with lighter colours as the tower gets higher to minimise “visual bulk” and transition into taller developments in the area.

“We have seen a recent expansion of student accommodation market which is seeking premium student accommodation rooms, with high amenity communal spaces, which this proposal seeks to respond to.

“Through the efficient use of space the proposal is able to offer high quality communal areas that will encourage residents into these communal areas and create a sense of community within the development.”

The City of Melbourne recently revealed almost 40 per cent of residents in the CBD used to be international students.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp has joined a chorus of people lobbying for the return of international students to kickstart the city's recovery from Covid-19.

The Human Habitats report acknowledged that building heights were in excess of planning overlays but said they “anticipated that this section of Victoria Parade will experience significant change in the coming years”.

Hassell’s design report said they had created a future-proofed student accommodation model beyond the traditional “rack and stack” boarding house model.

“The contemporary student demands a vibrant community of residents that not only share living space within the building, but also share in the amenity in connecting more broadly with the surrounding neighbourhood,” the report stated.

“The proposal presents an innovative future-proofed student accommodation model on the site, as well as responding to the specific site on the corner of the broad boulevard of Victoria Parade and the more intimate Napier Street.”

Student rooms feature a bed, robe, built-in desk, kitchenette and bathroom as well as a winter garden.

The country’s biggest provider of accommodation for university students, Scape, is pressing ahead with 17 new purpose-built student accommodation buildings, despite its portfolio of rooms sitting at just 25 per cent occupancy.

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