Student Accommodation

Cairns Campus, James Cook University

Wilson Architects designs new $40m Cairns student accommodation project

James Cook University (JCU) has selected Wilson Architects, a national award-winning
architecture firm, to design the $40 million on-campus-accommodation block at the Cairns campus.

Wilson Architects has established expertise in designing for both ‘living and learning’. The
firm’s design approach focuses on creating connections for students, while supporting their
education. The design incorporates formal and informal teaching and learning spaces and
encourages students and staff to live, eat, study, work and socialise together.

JCU Internal Courtyard.jpeg
“Just as we know that providing accommodation is more than just a bed, learning is also more than just a desk – they are part of a total process”

“We are thrilled to be bringing the best of education and residential design to James Cook
— Hamilton Wilson, Director Wilson Architects

JCU Vice-Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said the project will provide an
attractive living space for students and boost the university’s expansion.

“We are delighted to be announcing the construction of accommodation on the Cairns

“The Cairns campus has been growing and on-campus accommodation will make it an even more attractive destination for students. It will also provide a significant boost to the local

— Professor Sandra Harding, JCU Vice-Chancellor

The 300-bed project will deliver a mix of quality accommodation options over seven storeys.
Accommodation will include studio rooms with ensuites, and provide support and pastoral care to residents.

The development will also include ground floor retail space and end-of-ride cycling facilities, gym, kitchen and laundry facilities, as well as playing host to range of social events.

The project is expected to reach completion by 2018.

The architectural response captures a central courtyard space which is intimate enough to provide a domestic focus for the housing scheme but large enough to connect all the communal living and study spaces within the scheme.  The building is scaled to set a precedence for a compact urban environment moving forward, but one with strong integration and connection to the Tropical landscape.




2016 - Current

Project Value


Key Personnel
Hamilton Wilson,
Brent Hardcastle, Tomo Takada, Paul Newman,
Alex Quah-Smith, John Harrison, Ilka Salisbury, Emerald Vermeer

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