Col James Student Accommodation

  • 2022

  • Architectural
    Architectual Design

Designed By:

  • Turner Studio

Commissioned By:

Deicorp Properties


Aboriginal Housing Company

Designed In:


Col James Student Accommodation forms part of the Pemulwuy Precinct, on the site previously referred to as ‘The Block’ adjacent to Redfern Station. The architecture responds to Redfern’s rich urban conditions, past and present, whilst providing a collection of internal and external living and communal spaces for students.

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Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Brett Boardman
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  • Previously referred to as ‘The Block’, the small, triangular site of Col James required an innovative and comprehensive design process, to deliver the student housing as part of the larger Pemulwuy Precinct that includes affordable housing, community gym, kindergarten, and local workplaces. Bordered by Eveleigh and Lawson Streets, the design needed to respond to Redfern’s surrounding urban environment, both past and present. Whilst responding to the urban conditions was pivotal to the built form outcome, so to was the need to create a family environment that would make students feel at-home.

  • A building of 2 primary forms, the low-rise form responds to local terrace house vernacular and the slender tower responds to the city context and railway line. Turner worked closely with the local community, landscapers, and Indigenous artist Danny Eastwood, to integrate the public domain and public art strategy into the building fabric. Externally, you’ll find pockets of outdoor spaces around the building. Internally, as well as the 519 rooms, there are a collection of private and communal study areas, a gymnasium, cinema, and a family room central to the site with a communal lounge, kitchen, and dining room.

  • The design of Col James supports the overall vision of the Precinct by introducing a complimentary use and further enhancement of the public realm. An integrated Public Art Strategy further enriches the quality and the experience of the site. This is achieved through a considered design outcome which is consistent and compatible with existing contemporary developments within the vicinity of Redfern Railway Station and the desired future character for the area. The proposal incorporates the site’s heritage and history, the current contextual conditions, and the future vision for the precinct to deliver a cohesive and contextually appropriate development.

  • Col James involved numerous parties, including the Aboriginal Housing Company, the local community, State Government, the City of Sydney Council, Deicorp and Scape; and was driven by a design integrity process. The site features a building form that responds to the unique interfaces and urban context. Collaborating with Scott Carver and Indigenous artist Danny Eastwood Turner integrated the public domain and art strategy into the building fabric – the art wall, soffit and family of turtles moving across the façade. Inspiration was taken from the immediate surrounds, past and present, playing with the effect of light and its response to different elevations and materials. Profiled precast concrete panels heighten this, and terracotta is used in hues of colours that celebrate the site’s endemic flora. There are 519 rooms ranging from studios to clusters that accommodate five students, each with their own rooms but sharing facilities. Even when the design is for one, spaces feature high ceilings, separate bedroom, galley-style kitchen, and nifty features such as a kitchen bench ‘morphing’ into a built-in desk. Colour features strongly, with vibrant shades on each level used both to individualise levels and as a means of way finding.