Kambri, Australian National University

  • 2020

  • Architectural
    Place Design

Designed By:

  • BVN
  • Lahznimmo/ ASPECT studios Public Realm

Commissioned By:

Australian National University

Designed In:


The remaking of the heart of the Australian National University, is globally significant, both in ambition and infrastructure. Kambri has changed the relationship the university has with the City of Canberra, establishing itself as a vibrant new precinct, and resetting ANU’s academic experience; merging contemporary learning with cultural life.

view website

  • MORE
  • For the traditional custodians of this land, ‘Kambri’ has been a meeting place for thousands of years. The Kambri cultural precinct brief was to provide a new educational, physical, creative, social and hospitality experience in a village setting. As architects for the precinct, BVN was required to unite an ensemble of seven buildings around new public spaces, each with its own distinctive character and purpose. The precinct needed to be an urban environment that extended the activation of the space to enable a rich dialogue between occupants of the public space and those in the buildings.

  • Fenner Hall is the largest component of this redevelopment comprising of seven new buildings. Each with distinctive character and purpose, built around a series of public spaces and activated by more than 45 retailers. Bringing 450 student residences into the centre of the campus was critical in creating a vibrant 18-hour precinct. With two Mass Timber buildings in the precinct - one of the largest timber constructions in Australia at the time. The entire precinct architecture was designed by BVN and delivered by Lendlease. The precinct showcases significant innovations in timber building technology, one planet sustainability and smart campus integration.

  • Kambri resets how a University can merge campus life with urban life. All major teaching spaces are also designed as cultural event spaces, cinema, theatre and spaces for live bands and performance. Removing traditionally idle large spaces from the precinct. Across the project, over 31,100 tonnes of CO2 emissions were avoided 30% reduction in embodied carbon was achieved. The combination of timber construction and prefabricated facades resulted in 33% saving in programme and 60% saving in on site labour, significantly improving safety. The project has achieved an ecological footprint of 0.7 of the Planet which is considered “World Sustainable Leadership.”

  • ANU’s brief called for a set of uniquely distinctive buildings that together constitute an integrated ensemble of timeless elegance, drawing inspiration in both their form and colour palette from the heritage Chifley Library. Public domain elements of the project include the redevelopment of University Avenue; Union Court (rebadged as Kambri); a new terraced creek edge and amphitheatre including the restoration of Sullivan's Creek as a riparian and ecological corridor. Centralised underground car parking (400 spaces) services the precinct. The focus of Kambri is a large raised events lawn fringed by trees with strategic pedestrian connections made across the lawn, bringing the precinct together. These connections are further strengthened by the architecture, which sets up a series of framed dramatic views and thresholds. The ground level is predominantly retail, creating an interactive edge to the lawn. The diverse building typologies defining the public domain provide important visual connections between the public and the occupants and forming a ‘raised public domain’ through a series of decks and balconies.