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Perth’s new Boola Katitjin building sets sustainability benchmark

Perth’s new Boola Katitjin building sets sustainability benchmark

Successfully delivered by global contractor Multiplex, Murdoch University’s new sustainably designed Boola Katitjin building has officially opened.

The new academic building has pushed engineering boundaries to become what’s said to be the largest timber building in Western Australia – with 1,796 pieces of Mass Engineered Timber used across the building’s structural system.

Setting a benchmark for sustainability, the building features a 450-kilowatt solar panel array, estimated to produce over 60 per cent of the building’s operational energy requirements at peak conditions. Active design features include raised access floor systems with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning from below, energy efficient LED lighting used throughout with occupancy detection and natural lighting detection devices.

Further, landscaping plans allow for more than 26,000 native plants to be installed around the building; and a stormwater harvesting tank allows for reuse back in the building for grey water uses, with excess stormwater collection recharging groundwater through a large infiltration tank.

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Boola Katitjin was officially opened in mid-February by Murdoch University (Murdoch) Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Deeks and International Education Minister David Templeman MLA.

Professor Deeks said the building would accommodate up to 60 per cent of the University’s teaching requirements across 16,000 square metres, extending up to four storeys high and 180 metres in length, and creating a new connection between Discovery Way and Bush Court.

“Boola Katitjin will offer a digital rich learning environment that uses Australian-first technology and flexible class formats to allow for more innovative teaching approaches and greater engagement with the community and industry,” Professor Deeks said.

“It reflects the University’s commitment to sustainability – with Boola Katitjin designed to achieve the internationally recognised 6-star Green Star rating through a range of features including solar panels, stormwater harvesting, active design features and native landscaping.”

According to Professor Deeks, the name Boola Katitjin was given to the building by Dr Richard Walley, who has a long association with Murdoch.

“The Beeliar Wetlands around the University have been place of learning for thousands of years and we are proud to be adapting to the future of education to continue this tradition,” he added.

“I thank the University’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group for not only gifting us the building’s name, but also guiding the University on its digital engagement strategy, including some of the building’s beautiful artistic elements.”

The building also has a huge focus on technology. Students at Murdoch will be able to see, talk and collaborate with classmates anywhere in the world via Technology Enabled Learning (TEL) desks installed at Boola Katitjin.

The completed Boola Katitjin building.
The completed Boola Katitjin building.

The building connects to the University’s 2023–2030 strategy Building a Brighter Future, Together – Ngala Kwop Biddi, reflecting the three pillars of Sustainability; Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; and becoming the University of first choice for First Nations people.

Following the opening ceremony, Minister Templeman witnessed a demonstration of the innovative technology-enabled learning capability of Boola Katitjin, with Murdoch students working with academics at Murdoch’s Singapore campus.

“Through the Australia-first technology in Boola Katitjin, domestic and onshore international students will work seamlessly alongside their peers and academics based overseas,” Professor Deeks said.

“In addition, our Digital Immersive Lab includes high performance computers for stock market simulation and gaming usage and one of the largest collections of Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality headsets in Western Australia.

“We believe these capabilities represent the future of teaching and learning, and we are excited to see these technologies deployed into practice for the benefit of our academics and our students.”

Along with the building’s unique timber design that will bring the outdoors in, the walls, hallways, elevators, and escalators of Boola Katitjin will be used to display a range of audio, video and interactive artworks.

Key features of the building include 21 large flat-floor format teaching and learning spaces, technology-rich labs, and immersive industry collaboration facilities as well as extensive areas for informal ‘peer to peer’ learning, workspaces for staff, student services and a series of innovative research and industry engagement spaces.

Its inclusive design ensures universal accessibility including lifts, ramps, and shaded walkways, plus all gender amenities, changing places and parents’ rooms.

The building will open to staff and students from the start of Semester One.

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