4.4 Landscape structure | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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4.4 Landscape structure

The existing landscape at the University of the Sunshine Coast possesses a degree of structure and hierarchy arising primarily from the disposition of the existing buildings, walkways and car parks. The legibility of the core of the campus as a public open space is currently high, primarily due to the visual strength of the concentration of buildings along the central axis.

As the campus is developed the landscape will be required to also contribute to establishing the legibility of other significant spaces.

The planting deployed across the site during 2007-2011 has moderately contributed to precinct definition, urban design structure and visual consistency. There is great potential to continue establishing a recognisable hierarchy of canopy trees, one of the key proposals of the 2012 Campus Master Plan.

Several issues will influence the campus landscape as it adapts and develops in the future: the development of a whole of campus landscape context for the ongoing development of the site, the accommodation of outdoor education and passive recreation, the provision of shade and shelter between buildings in the central campus area, as well as within the broader landscape, an increasing concern with environmentally sustainable design, and in particular water and energy conservation measures, the need to respond to the urban setting of the Town Centre proposed to the north of the campus, which will require consideration of appropriate responses to the potential migration of fauna to and through the University as habitat is removed in the development of the adjacent Town Centre, the need to create a landscape link to, and setting for, the developing recreation and sports precinct and the creation of a landscape framework and hierarchy of spaces that can inform future building locations and design.

The continued use and enjoyment of the campus landscape will revolve around a series of organised spaces or opportunities that together provide a sense of integrated landscape structure and hierarchy. Rather than being conceived as ‘left over’ green areas, these elements together form an integrated structure connecting the disparate external spaces of the campus.

Major landscape zones

The campus landscape is fundamentally structured by three major zones which reflect the distribution of activity over the campus, its density of buildings and the land uses adjacent the site.


Central campus

The area defined by the main building axis exhibits a comparatively formal landscape character, responsive to the geometry and spatial character of the surrounding buildings, as well as the associated cross axes. The design and location of buildings creates courtyards and other landscaped spaces which house a variety of activities.

Landscape treatments seek to respond to the spatial opportunities created by building location and design, as well as support and complement internal activities such as dining, studying and social meetings.

A defined palette of materials, furniture and plantings assists in providing a strong sense of continuity and cohesiveness to this zone.



Extending beyond the core of the main building grouping, a parkland character is proposed which consists predominantly of open woodland native trees over a ground plane of either irrigated or dry land grasses.

The palette of tree types consists mainly of regionally indigenous species. Trees are grouped to provide shade, enhance views, define sub spaces where appropriate, and provide a landscape setting for individual buildings.

This zone is a major component of the campus experience, reinforcing the casual Sunshine Coast outdoor lifestyle, while providing a regionally distinctive setting for the campus.


Bushland zone

Building on the translocation plantings in the eastern corner of the site, the bushland zone extends west past the lakes and north-west to link with the precincts near the main University entrance, and the trees to the north-west of the sports precinct.

This zone consists of locally indigenous species, providing an extension of the adjacent National Park, and of habitat and biodiversity corridors for the movement of Eastern Grey Kangaroos and other native fauna. It provides a valuable and generous sized natural environment in which to research, walk, or simply pass time in contemplation.