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Construction has started on a 35-storey student accommodation building at 203 North Terrace, in the Adelaide CBD. But this will be no ordinary high-rise project.

203 North Terrace is an existing, three-storey, State Heritage listed former warehouse of ‘exceptional heritage significance’. Built in 1878, the building is historically significant for its direct association with large South Australian merchant firm G & R Wills & Co.

The warehouse forms a pair with ‘The Gallerie’ building located on its western side, which falls under a separate State heritage listing. This building was originally constructed for G & R Wills & Co some years earlier, however was refaced and extended to form the present warehouse complex. Historically 202-203 North Terrace was also associated with the neo-Gothic building on its eastern side as John Martin & Co acquired both buildings in the 1940s.

The innovative student accommodation building will preserve the original heritage fabric of the historic building, which will then act as a podium to a 35-storey high-rise accommodation tower.

Significant restoration work will be required to retain and restore the existing building facade, as well as the careful salvage, removal, storage and reuse of many internal features, including structural timber elements and ornamental ceiling finishes.

Due to the sensitive and unique nature of the project, SYNERGY CONSTRUCT has developed a detailed structural support system and construction methodology to protect the fabric of the heritage building during works. Vibration monitoring and temporary structural support fixings have also been installed to minimise damage.

To cater to the tall and slender high-rise tower, we designed an innovative, engineered raft slab, perched upon a series of under-reamed bored piers, with the historically significant northern (front) facade protected by retention piles and strip footings.

The tower design is sympathetic to the heritage place and surrounds, incorporating the use of vertical aluminium blades and a dual facade design of sandstone-coloured precast concrete sections, separated into three vertical elements by a dark metallic finish to levels 12, 23 and 34.

Facade changes to the State Heritage Place have been kept to a minimum to ensure the original heritage fabric of the building was preserved.

SYNERGY CONSTRUCT Business Director Michael Gramazio says the team is excited by the opportunity to design and construct a project that will breathe life back into 203 North Terrace and begin its new chapter in the heart of the city’s cultural and university precinct.

We feel fortunate to have directly negotiated this design and construct contract with Accord Property for this landmark high-rise building, at a very volatile time (through the COVID pandemic),

With its heritage facade and logistical complexities, we have an exciting job ahead of us! We look forward to overcoming the challenges and delivering this 35-level student accommodation building to a standard that exceeds our client’s expectations.

– Business Director Michael Gramazio