"We've gone a bit Grand Designs," staff at the Australian National University explain as they lead the way through scaffolds and puddles on site at the university's new $263 million development.
In the upgraded Union Court, timber has largely taken the place of steel, and wooden beams soar overhead, the skeleton of six sustainably-designed buildings still in construction.
The precinct is more than six years in the making, and set to open early next year, but just a few months ago the whole site was under water.
Vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt said on Tuesday it was "extraordinary" that a February rainstorm which brought much of Canberra to a standstill and flooded the ANU's Chifley Library, only set the project back three weeks.
"All this was a swimming pool," he said. "Given the magnitude, it's amazing... what people have done."
The newly named Kambri precinct will soon be "bustling" hub in Canberra's CBD, Professor Schmidt said, boasting a cinema, theatre, health and wellness centre and teaching spaces as well as 45 shops.
A "Melbourne style" laneway and "intimate piazza" will offer outdoor dining, and there really will be a swimming pool, measuring 25 metres, as well as a sprawling underground car park with about 400 spaces.
The university hopes the precinct will host a number of major events in the future, including a new Innovation Festival funded by the ACT government in this year's budget.
Joining Professor Schmidt and media on the tour, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr admitted the potential of the new cultural space was making him long to return to the university as a mature-age student.
"It's a massive improvement on my time here," Mr Barr, noting the project lined up well with the ACT government's renewal of other city sites including the Supreme Court.
The updated Union Court will also have three new bars, after the famous ANU bar was torn down during the development, though Professor Schmidt confirmed the university's union will no longer run them.
"I think I may have seen a few bands before they were famous at that venue," Mr Barr said.
"Universities will continue to play that role in providing opportunities for new and emerging talent...I'm sure the ANU will continue that fine tradition."
Professor Schmidt said the name of the precinct, which had been gifted to the university by local Indigenous families, was closed tied to the city's own.
"It means meeting place... and we want Kambri to become a seamless precinct that really links in to the centre of the nation’s capital," he said.
Residents at the university's Fenner Hall in Braddon will be moved on campus for the first time as part of the development, which will create 450 student beds.
Another 800 beds will be opened during upgrades to Bruce Hall and a new sister residence, but Professor Schmidt said there was no new accommodation specifically for postgraduate students under construction as yet.
The university would still be in need of more beds after the precinct opened, he said, and extra scholarships too, with a new admissions process unveiled in May hoping to attract more students of disadvantaged backgrounds.
"Right now you literally need to be rich enough to move to Canberra [to study here]" he said.
To that end, the ANU would ramp up a "philanthropic campaign" and "do what it takes in the short term to... make the place more accessible", Professor Schmidt said.
Just last month, the ANU was slammed as "gutless" after it knocked back a generous philanthropic bequest from the John Howard-headed Ramsay Centre to start a controversial new degree and scholarship program in Western Civilisation.
Professor Schmidt cited concerns about the university's academic freedom as the reason for the move, with the centre seeking unprecedented input into the course's curriculum, but he soon faced questions directly from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who told reporters last week he found it "very hard to understand" why the offer was rejected.
On Tuesday, Professor Schmidt said his conversation with Mr Turnbull went well, and the prime minister had shown "a great deal of interest and knowledge about what was doing on".
"He was very supportive and understood the need for academic autonomy," Professor Schmidt said.
He wasn't taken aback by Mr Turnbull's request for a personal explanation, he said, as "this is clearly a really interesting issue for Australia".
The Prime Minister's office has been contacted for comment.
A relationship banned under traditional law.
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