HASSELL: Macquarie University’s most significant public space, Central Courtyard, is a place where the daily activities of university life are played out and rituals are celebrated. The courtyard is part of a suite of open spaces linked by the university’s central access spine. It is a singular space, defined by a grid of existing Corymbia (eucalyptus) and Citriodora (lemon scented gums), framed by administrative and student services buildings.
Key principles were established guide the design process based on the brief, site analysis and stakeholder consultations. They set to preserve the existing grid of trees; retain a flat uncluttered ground plane; design a low maintenance, healthy and sustainable landscape; provide clear and safe access through the courtyard space; maintain flexibility of the space to allow for a number of different uses; and make the courtyard a place for people that promotes social and intellectual interaction.
The ongoing sustainability of the existing trees was a key design consideration. In order to ensure the viability of the trees, and minimise damage to the root structure, a 190 millimetre raised plinth was constructed. Pathways were then formed with permeable concrete unit pavers providing a durable, low maintenance and low cost surface that allows air and moisture to reach the roots of the trees.
The HASSELL design solution emphasises the courtyard’s importance as the university’s heart, providing a flexible space for events, and clear and safe access. Areas of turf have been constructed within clearings giving students grassy areas for relaxation, where they can gather to talk and debate, or just sit quietly and think. It caters to the proposed increase in student numbers by providing a durable and easily maintained surface that allows for access across the courtyard, and the multiple activities that occur throughout the year, while enhancing the health of the trees that provide protection from the elements and beautifully define the space.
Landscape Architecture: HASSELL
Project name: Macquarie University Central Courtyard
Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Completion date: 2009
Area: 5,000 sqm
Client: Macquarie University
Northcroft – Engineers
Northcroft – Quantity Surveyors
Lighting Art & Science – Electrical and Lighting
2009 CCAA Public Domain Awards – Winner – Sustainable Design