Client story

Modernising a World War 2 accommodation building for Defence

The refurbishment sought to enhance the experience of soldiers and sailors.


Project & Development Services

Department of Defence


July 2021 – July 2023


Larrakeyah Defence Precinct, Darwin

Asset type

Heritage-listed building

The Australian Defence Force wanted to enhance its Passchendaele accommodation building, a two-storey heritage-listed block within Darwin’s Larrakeyah Defence precinct, which is a major military headquarters for soldiers and sailors returning from war.

Transforming the base experience for service personnel

Due to its age, Passchendaele no longer offered adequate living spaces for Defence personnel. As part of our longstanding project management role for the Defence Estate Works Program, we sought to design and build a modernised facility that incorporated multiple breakout rooms and kitchenettes to assist sailors and soldiers recovering from long trips at sea.

We engaged the local Indigenous construction company, BARPA to carry out the works due to its extensive experience with heritage-listed buildings, as well as on the Defence precinct. The appointment was a fantastic opportunity to increase First Nations participation in the Defence industry.

The scope of building works included the demolition and rebuild of all walls, roofing and windows, new bathrooms and wet areas, replacement of all flooring, paint and patching of walls and ceilings, and the replacement of all doors. All works had to conform to a heritage management plan as well as Defence requirements.

Another important consideration was the reuse of certain elements of the building to maintain as much of the original fabric as possible.

How do you deliver the comforts of home and a sense of community?

Our redesign of the building was centred around establishing comfortable dormitory accommodation with various bathrooms and laundry facilities. Key to enhancing the experience of residents, was ample shared spaces that could be re-organised to cater to different needs.

During the build, we held weekly meetings with Defence management to ensure everyone was across progress and any updates to the original plan.

As it turns out, structural issues requiring extensive repairs were revealed during the works, including to the roof structure which had to be replaced. Weekly meetings with the contractor and engineers meant decisions were made quickly and delays kept to a minimum.

Handing over a facility that supports the wellbeing of Australia’s servicemen and women

The outcome of our design, and the construction work, was a modern facility with multiple breakout rooms and kitchenettes so that military personnel have access to safe, modern, and comfortable living environments.

All was delivered within the agreed timeframe and under budget. We are confident the refurbishment will better equip personnel to focus on their duties and feel more prepared for military operations. In turn, this should have a positive impact on retention rates for Defence employees.

After the completion of the project, the Larrakia community hosted a smoking ceremony for the ongoing success of the site.

Our working relationship with the base has strengthened post-delivery of this project, which has continued to position JLL as the sought-after Estate Works Program partner.