Student fingerprints in the lounge

text text INSIDE UNISA

It is yet to open for business, but UniSA’s new student lounge has student fingerprints all over it.

A hard working team of UniSA architecture and interior architecture students have been involved in every part of the design of the new space – from concept drawings, right through to researching materials, negotiating plans and submitting final designs.

Underpinned by a renewed commitment to student engagement, planning for the new student lounge began two years ago.

And with a desire to enhance opportunities for students to be involved in experiential learning, UniSA’s Facilities Management Unit delivered the first brief for the project to third year students in Interior Architecture and Design programs, charging them to come up with fresh ideas for the space.

And they certainly pushed the boundaries, putting forward spaces that included giant sleeping cocoons, complete kitchen facilities and an amazing array of finishes and furnishings that paid tribute to the student lounge’s former life as the City West campus library.

Master of Architecture graduate and lecturer at UniSA, Christopher Trotta with students.Paring back and distilling all that design energy into a workable, functional, student lounge was all part of the learning process, according to recent Master of Architecture graduate and lecturer at UniSA, Christopher Trotta (pictured right).

Trotta was brought in to develop the work of the six-person student design team and organise their ongoing contribution to the project as part of their industry-linked learning.

“We had to synthesize the strongest of the design ideas from across the six student submissions and come up with a single, cohesive design to present back to the client … in this instance the University, and we had just six weeks in which to do it,” he says.

“This is certainly one of the best ways for students to learn about how they will need to apply their design skills and their abundant creativity in the real world and it is a great way to teach them what working life as an interior architect will require.”

The six students – Rachel Aistrope, Amie Blanden, Alyssa Ellenwood, Bonnie Hamilton, Emily Rogers and Ghislian Maiden – worked in teams to refine designs across the whole project looking at furniture, fixtures and finishes, joinery, lighting and architecture.

In the next month the lounge will be officially opened, but none of the student designers will get the chance to enjoy the space; they have all graduated and taken the next step into their careers.

For Bonnie Hamilton, now working at the small architectural firm Studio-gram on some exciting commercial projects in the food and wine sector, the experience gained on UniSA’s student lounge project was invaluable.

“Honestly doing that work gave me the kind of confidence I needed to be a practising designer,” Hamilton says.

“It is hugely beneficial to have to take your ideas and concepts to the presentation stage and to go through the process of seeing if the client likes the work and wants to accept the designs.

“The best part is knowing something you designed will be realised.”

And for mentor, teacher and practising designer, Trotta the next step has been into the high end of residential architecture in Sydney.

The design story for all of these UniSA graduates has moved beyond our student living room and into the wider world.

UniSA Open Day

More than 12,000 people are expected to flock to UniSA’s City West and City East campuses this Sunday (August 16) for UniSA Open Day.

Open Day is the first event in the ‘Open August’ series for the University, which allows people of all ages who are thinking of studying to visit campuses and learn about programs and entry pathways.

The new student lounge (story above), currently under construction at City West campus, will open for a special ‘sneak peek’ on Open Day.

Set to open officially in a few weeks’ time, the lounge will provide a social space for students to interact and unwind.

Other special attractions at City West campus for Open Day include tours of the Jeffrey Smart Building, Law Building and art, architecture and design facilities. There’ll also be a special ‘get snapped’ photo competition, where students are encouraged to jump in our photo booth on Fenn Place and upload their pic to social media with the hashtag #unisanow.

At City East campus, people will be able to visit the UniSA Health and Medical Clinic, medical imaging suites, Virtual Environment Radiotherapy Training (VERT), anatomy lab, nutrition and dietetics hub, exercise environmental chamber and the High Performance and Exercise Physiology Clinic.

A full schedule of program information sessions at both City West and City East campuses will run throughout the day.

For more information go to or download the UniSA Students app for all the information you need direct to your phone.