UVic’s new residence complex enhances the campus experience

Two new residences—Čeqʷəŋín ʔéʔləŋ (Cheko’nien House) and Sŋéqə ʔéʔləŋ (Sngequ House)—provide much-needed student housing, as well as new academic and social space to help students live a full, fun and experience-rich life at UVic.

It’s an exciting time for UVic as we mark the official opening of our new residence complex, the university’s largest capital infrastructure project to date.

These two new residences—Čeqʷəŋín ʔéʔləŋ (Cheko’nien House) and Sŋéqə ʔéʔləŋ (Sngequ House)—provide much-needed student housing, as well as new academic and social space to help students live a full, fun and experience-rich life at UVic. With a modern dining facility, two new lecture theatres, shared lounges, community kitchens, and conference and meeting rooms, the new complex is a gathering place for everyone at UVic.

“Our government is building new student housing throughout the province, including at UVic,” says Premier David Eby. “These new homes are helping students enjoy campus life, easily access student services and focus on their studies, while also easing demand on Victoria’s rental market.”

Read the province’s media release

Designed and built to meet LEED Gold and Passive House standards, Čeqʷəŋín ʔéʔləŋ and Sŋéqə ʔéʔləŋ also represent the first significant capital project since the Campus Plan was renewed in 2016.

With the addition of more than 600 much-needed new on-campus beds, this complex will have a major impact on our campus and our community for years to come. We’re providing a safe, inclusive and welcoming home away from home for more UVic students than ever before. Importantly, we’ve also added new amenities for our community, including a state-of-the art dining facility, academic and meeting spaces. And we could not have done it without the support of our partners, including local and provincial governments who helped us realize this vital capital project.
Jim Dunsdon, Associate Vice-President, Student Affairs

Honouring people and place

UVic is honoured that Songhees and Esquimalt Nations have given us permission to use the names Čeqʷəŋín ʔéʔləŋ (Cheko’nien House) & Sŋéqə ʔéʔləŋ (Sngequ House). The names are a way to bring to life the language and the history of the People and land on which these buildings sit.

An important aspect of UVic’s Indigenization efforts is the new Indigenous student lounge in Sŋéqə ʔéʔləŋ The lounge is open to all Indigenous students, offering culturally responsive programming, support and drop in hours with supportive staff and Elders.

In addition, the buildings include design features and signage that inspire critical reflections on the history of these lands and educational opportunities for the campus community. It’s all an effort to honour and integrate Indigenous ways of knowing and being into our campus infrastructure in meaningful and respectful ways. Learn about the building names

Adding much-needed new beds

Communal kitchenThe buildings were designed with community connection and gathering in mind. Features like large communal kitchens, living and dining areas allow residents to get to know their neighbours.

In Victoria’s tight rental housing market, new housing on campus is a welcome addition. The complex adds 621 net new beds—398 in Čeqʷəŋín ʔéʔləŋ and 385 in Sŋéqə ʔéʔləŋ —bringing UVic’s capacity to roughly 3,000 beds total on campus—an increase of 25%. This means more students can live and thrive on campus, while we also help to address an acute regional need for increased rental housing.

“The addition of new beds is so important for our community,” says Kathryn Macleod, Director, Residence Services. “In addition to our first-year guarantee, we have more than 1,000 upper-level undergraduate and graduate students living on campus this year—that’s a very significant increase.”

That means more students have an opportunity to live on campus—setting the foundation for a successful and transformational university experience.

The buildings were designed with community connection and gathering in mind. Features like large communal kitchens, living and dining areas allow residents to get to know their neighbours. In addition, student lounges, meetings spaces and the Cove, our new dining facility, give students plenty of options to relax and connect.

Living on the UVic campus is such an important experience because of the communities we build. These new buildings provide ample opportunities to live side-by-side—for students to interact and share their UVic experience in a place like no other, supported by our residence programming.
Kathryn Macleod, Director, Residence Services

A new place to learn

The complex boasts new academic spaces, too. Residents can now take advantage of study rooms in both new buildings. Plus, two new 225-seat tiered lecture theatres in Sŋéqə ʔéʔləŋ are already in high demand, with classes ranging from math and psychology, to business, engineering and astronomy booked throughout the year.

“It is very exciting to get two large lecture theatres to support our growing programs,” says Acting Registrar Wendy Taylor. “Having lecture theatres within the residence district extends the university environment more fully into our residence housing, and supports the whole student experience—curricular and co-curricular. It expands campus life, giving students in residence the opportunity to be near their classes as they start their day. It adds to the vibrancy of our campus.”

New conference and meeting spaces

Interior image of conference spaceSŋéqə ʔéʔləŋ boasts two new multi-purpose conference rooms.

Along with the additional beds, the new residence complex offers in-demand meeting spaces. Sŋéqə ʔéʔləŋ boasts two new multi-purpose conference rooms.

Degrees Catering has also moved onsite to accommodate a full range of conferencing and meeting events supported by an extensive range of dining options from pre-plated, to buffet, to tapas circulating on platters.

“We’re excited to add much-needed conferencing and meeting space for the university community,” says Rishi Bagul, UVic’s point person for catering. “The new facility will attract and support a wide range of academic and national conferencing opportunities with availability for the local community to access the venue for a range of private events, including weddings.”

Not to be overlooked is the student-centred multipurpose space inside Čeqʷəŋín ʔéʔləŋ. “It’s a gorgeous, bright, separate area overlooking Ring Road on the second floor of The Cove,” says John Thompson, Director of University Food Services. “Although primarily designed for student use within the dining facility, it is a great venue for catering and conference events during non-peak academic times.” 

Coming home to UVic

Great housing, good food and beautiful spaces to gather are all key ways to bring people together and weave a connected blanket of support on campus. At its core, the new residence complex elevates the student experience, supporting students to succeed in their studies in a vibrant university community.

Lighter footprint, better sleeps

Design and construction of our new buildings meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold and Passive House standards, the most rigorous global building standards for sustainability and energy efficiency. Passive House design principles aim to reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and maintenance and replacement costs through a higher-performing building envelope. LEED V4 is an internationally recognized, third-party rating system based on energy and environmental principles.

Notably, the complex’s use of wood as a primary building material significantly offsets its carbon footprint. The building designs incorporated a mass-timber structure in Čeqʷəŋín ʔéʔləŋ and wood finishes in Sŋéqə ʔéʔləŋ.

The new dining hall, the Cove, also sets an exemplary precedent for the largest commercial kitchen in North America designed in a Passive House building. By adopting a robust energy reduction strategy and using electric kitchen equipment (rather than the industry standard gas-based equipment), this kitchen is five- to six-times more energy efficient than conventional commercial kitchens.  


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Keywords: Student life, administrative, community, Indigenous

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