Block 2, 7 and 8 Section 5 City (University Avenue)

Block 2, 7 and 8 Section 5 City (University Avenue)

The Site

The proposed mixed-use development is on the proposed Blocks 2, 7 and 8 Section 5 City which are located on the corner of two major streets, Marcus Clarke Street and University Avenue, within the City Precinct.

To the northeast of the site is Darwin Place, a publicly accessible landscaped area featuring several mature street trees that provides both pedestrian and vehicular access, and loading zones to service the neighbouring buildings (northern side of Section 8 City). The subject site’s eastern edge is adjacent to an existing 13-storey building commonly known as the ‘AON Building’ and a two-level car parking structure accessible via Farrell Place.

Locality Plan

Block 2 is currently occupied by an eight storey building (formerly known as the ‘CML Building’) on the corner of University Avenue and Marcus Clarke Street, designed by Towell Rippon and Associates Architects and completed in 1968. Block 7 is occupied by a four-storey building that abuts the adjacent building on Block 6 Section 5 City.

The Proposal

Block details

The proposed development is for the construction of a new mixed-use development on Blocks 2, 7 & 8 Section 5 City, 17-21 University Street. The proposed development includes the following design and siting elements for approval by EPSDD as the consent authority:

  • Two 13-storey Mixed-use buildings with retail areas on the ground floor and residential on 12 storeys above. The building footprints are restricted within their block boundaries
  • Three (3) level basement parking is proposed to ensure there are sufficient parking options for the users of the development. The basement is proposed across the three blocks.
  • Activating and invigorating the public corridor on Block 8 with high-quality landscaping elements, addition of kiosks, and opportunities for deep-rooted planting
  • Associated site services

Architectural Statement

Artist Impression of the development from corner of Marcus Clarke Street and University Avenue

A composition of contemporary form, considered materiality and generous public space; the architecture of 17-21 University Avenue aims to redefine Canberra’s Civic quarter, by providing exceptional amenity in combination with innovative design, timeless finishes and spacious living areas.

17-21 University Avenue speaks directly to the City Renewal Authority’s aims for the rejuvenation of Canberra’s Civic Quarter, by injecting much needed diversity into what was once a strictly nine to five commercial hub. The project leverages its location between the Australia’s National University and Canberra CBD, activating the ground plane along Marcus Clarke Street and University Avenue by gently weaving in retail tenancies, encased in a generous sculpted concrete-arched colonnade. 17-21 University Avenue further activates the ground plane by addressing the significant fall in the site. This is achieved by removing the existing raised public space and reworking this with the natural slope of the site. Through site links permeating both towers allow for easy DDA access to laneways and the rejuvenated public spaces between the two towers, further activated by kiosk retail and amphitheatre seating.

Both towers draw contextual inspiration from the iconic Clem Cummings bus shelters, employing elements of the iconic curvilinear motifs in their form. The two towers are distinct in design with Tower A using elements borrowed from the hexagonal language of the Civic grid, addressing its two-street frontage of Marcus Clarke and University Avenue. Tower B remains more playful in bookending the site, with greater variation in form in its façade, inverting the language of the arch to form sculpted apartment balconies. Tower A and B are then tied together by the same language of an arched colonnade, achieved by making the colonnade for Tower B double heighted so that is a clear podium datum line carried across the two towers, further celebrating their connection. The colonnades speak directly to the local Civic landmarks of the iconic Sydney and Melbourne Buildings on Northbourne Avenue, repeating this arched language, defining Civic Quarter’s extents and legibility in the city. Materiality is used to further distinguish the two towers with copper and perforated metal employed in the façade for Tower A and green bricks for Tower B. Vegetated balconies offering softened vistas from the apartments across Canberra.

The proposal is being presented to the community as part of mandatory Pre-DA consultation activities.

Statutory Planning

The subject site is located within CZ1 – Core Zone, which permits the proposed uses.

The overall concept is considered to be consistent with the various applicable code of the Territory Plan. The relevant Codes include the City Precinct Code, the Commercial Zones Development Code, Multi unit Housing Code and the general codes where applicable.

The proposal responds well to the overall objectives of the CZ1 Core Zone, which are to:

  1. Encourage a mix of predominantly commercial land uses that contribute to a diverse and active character
  2. Provide for a range of conveniently located retail and service outlets
  3. Promote vibrant, interesting and lively street frontages including during evenings and weekends
  4. Encourage an attractive, safe and well-lit pedestrian environment with convenient access to public transport
  5. Maintain and enhance a high standard of urban design through use of sustainable design and materials and ensure that buildings retain a high level of design consistency and compatibility
  6. Provide opportunities for business investment and employment
  7. Promote the establishment of cultural and community identity that is representative of, and appropriate to, the place
  8. Promote active living and active travel
  9. Provide a high quality public realm by facilitating active uses on ground floor level that connects with the wider open space, pedestrian and cycle networks to promote active travel and active living.

The sites are also subject to the Special Requirements within the National Capital Plan and are considered to be consistent with the requirements.

Architectural Plans

Plans are available for download via the below link. Please note that these plans are a work in progress and may be subject to minor changes throughout the design development stage.

National Capital Design Review Panel Advice

As per the Pre-DA Community Consultation Guidelines, developments that are required to consult with the NCDRP must undertake this prior to Pre-DA community consultation.

The NCDRP comments must also be presented to the community during consultation.

The proposed designs have undergone two NCDRP sessions, please click on the link below to view panels advice (second session).

Project Timeframe

Purdon is aiming to submit the DA for this proposal in mid-November 2022.

Opportunities for Community Input/Feedback

Purdon will be undertaking community consultation on behalf of the Proponent, commencing Monday, 31 October until Monday, 14 November 2022.

Online Session:

Thursday, 10th November 2022, 4:30pm – 6:00pm

Please register your interest via email to, and a meeting link to the session will be emailed to you the day prior to the session.

The project team will also be contacting various community groups to ensure their members and other interested persons have the opportunity to provide comments prior to the lodgement of a Development Application.

Further Information

If you would like further information or wish to discuss the Proposal, please do not hesitate to contact Purdon on:

(02) 6257 1511

Or use the ‘have your say’ form below to provide comments.

(0 votes. Average 0 of 5)