6.3 Land use and facilities | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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6.3 Land use and facilities

The pattern of land use illustrated in the 2012 Campus Master Plan aims to make optimum use of what land is available, and appropriate, for development within the University’s boundaries. Land on the campus is limited by the need for avoiding low lying areas, generally to the south and south-east, which are prone to flooding.

Additionally, the cost of servicing a highly dispersed arrangement of facilities would place unacceptable demands upon the University’s financial resources. Adopting a compact linear plan for the development of the University therefore anticipates an economy in servicing, in addition to ordering the relationship between both future and existing buildings, and the campus’ built and natural environments.

Primary building zones

The Primary Building Zone includes all the major buildings which address the central open green. The 2012 Campus Master Plan envisages an extension of this linear sequence of buildings both south-east towards the lake shore and north-west towards the Innovation Centre and main campus entry. When completed, this will align buildings with a similar massing and width in each of the five bays facing across the central open green.

To the south, this organising principle will be terminated by buildings of a different configuration along the lake shore, while to the north-west the line of buildings will extend so as to connect the Innovation Centre with the buildings on the south side of the open campus green.


Secondary building zones

The Secondary Building Zone includes those buildings situated immediately behind the Primary Building Zone. These buildings address the main pedestrian access routes leading perpendicularly into the open campus green.

While they share the orientation and some of the road networks servicing buildings aligned in the Primary Building Zone, it is expected they will generally be larger and higher than these facilities. The Secondary Building Zone creates opportunity for a series of outdoor landscaped courts behind the Primary Building Zone.


Structured car parking

A strategy of progressively moving a greater proportion of the faculty and staff to public transport as well as paid parking requires that parking infrastructure be made available for their use. The University now provides almost all of the surface parking anticipated in the original 1994 Campus Master Plan.

Further expansion of surface parking needs careful consideration due to its detrimental impact on the campus’ visual amenity and landscape continuity. Two parking structures are therefore proposed, one to the south-west of the Secondary Building Zone, and the other close to the campus’ northern boundary. It is envisaged both parking stations could be constructed incrementally as funding becomes available.

Permanent parking areas, whether structured or on-grade, are excluded from occupying land within the major loop road. This topic is covered in greater detail under 5.7 Parking.


Sports precinct

There has been significant development of on-campus sports facilities beyond what was initially envisaged at the University’s inception, including most recently, the construction of a 50m swimming pool.

The 2012 Campus Master Plan anticipates a modest continuation of developing the campus sports precinct, with priority given to additional landscaping in order to provide shade adjacent the athletics track and sporting fields. Recreational exercise circuits will also be constructed in stages alongside the existing campus sporting facilities.


Research precinct

The expanding research profile of the University of the Sunshine Coast suggests dedicated spaces for research should be provided on campus. To give this significant purpose the exposure and significance it warrants, two buildings either side of the secondary entrance from Sippy Downs Drive will be dedicated for research facilities. This does not preclude the introduction of research spaces within other buildings elsewhere on campus, where appropriate. The proposed buildings are sized so as to enable the retention of the surrounding stands of native vegetation, while their configuration along the boundary suggests their potential for addressing the urban context likely to develop in the future with the realisation of the Sippy Downs Town Centre.


Town centre frontage

The land use shown in the 2012 Campus Master Plan indicates a number of responses to how the University should address the proposed Sippy Downs Town Centre, likely to be developed on the properties opposite the University’s northern boundary on Sippy Downs Drive.

Firstly, a new facility is proposed north of the Innovation Centre, serving as a compact, yet highly accessible Visitor’s Centre, clearly visible at this major point of entry into the campus, and able to orient visitors to the broader campus environment. This would face a small landscaped plaza providing the University entrance with a greater degree of formality and definition.

East of the entry road, and as detailed in the 2007 Campus Master Plan, a new University Park is proposed fronting Sippy Downs Drive. This will provide landscape amenities to both the University community and the residents and inhabitants of the future Sippy Downs Town Centre.

Beyond this landscape, the natural bush will resume, surrounding the back of the new research buildings, whose northern elevations will have opportunity to respond to the urban context provided by the development proposed on the opposite side of Sippy Downs Drive.


Sites of significance

A number of key sites have been identified which, because of their prominent locations, have the potential to create and convey a strong institutional identity through high architectural quality. Examples of this type of land use already present on campus include the centrally placed Library and the Innovation Centre, located close to the campus’ main entrance, and which currently serves as a venue for graduations. Both buildings have symbolic relevance for the University as a whole.

The campus' key sites are important assets for the University, and a policy of naming such spaces should be considered as a means to define, communicate and help preserve their significance. This can also be an appropriate way of publicly acknowledging benefactors and other significant contributors to the University.

Three further sites of this kind are identified in the 2012 Campus Master Plan.

The first site, located on the highest land available on campus, is the proposed Visitors Centre. This modest sized building could serve as a readily identifiable hub for visitor information, conveying a sense of welcome through its design and location aside the main entrance to the campus.

This symbolic role is likely to become more pressing as the Town Centre across Sippy Downs Drive begins to be realised. The architecture of the Visitors Centre should be integrated with the north elevation of the Innovations Centre immediately to the south, retaining its height and roof line while presenting a generous entrance to the east, where pedestrians can either congregate in the proposed public space or move between the University campus and the Town Centre.

The space surrounding the Visitors Centre will form the western boundary of a new park proposed at the northern perimeter of the campus’ frontage to Sippy Downs Drive, connecting the Innovations Centre and its research facilities with the research buildings proposed further to the east.

The second site occurs as part of the extended Primary Building Zone, linking the Innovations Centre to the linear sequence of buildings aligned on the south-western side the open campus green. As well as its potential role as a link between the entrance area and the main part of the campus, this site faces an expansive area of landscape to the north, with a highly visible aspect suggestive of especial significance as it will provide an urban marker and gateway to the main part of the University.

While the use of this building is to be determined, potential functions may include a Great Hall for formal University functions or a new building with facilities for the performing arts. The building should be designed with full recognition of its context, with a dignified architectural character expressive of the ethos of the institution and its maturing academic identity.

The space retained to the north of this building is intended to be reserved as a relatively informal landscape, extending the tree cover provided by the existing nearby stands of native vegetation and accommodating the intersection of a number of the campus’ natural water, flora and fauna corridors.

The third site nominated in the 2012 Campus Master Plan as having particular significance is where the central building axis meets the lake frontage. Here, in this highly recognisable location, the configuration of sites alters in order to encourage an architectural expression which frames views of the lake shore and the landscape beyond, and which enables a high degree of pedestrian amenity at the interface of the land and water.


Residential building

Since its inception, the University of the Sunshine Coast has not found it necessary to provide students with on campus residential accommodation. While the need for student housing was anticipated prior to the University opening, the rapid subsequent development of Chancellor Park has obviated the need for the University to compete with the private accommodation market, which has successfully met the need for sufficient quantities of affordable student housing.

There have been additional advantages for the University in adopting this approach. Land which would otherwise be used for housing on campus can be allocated for academic purposes or for support facilities, circumventing the need for University funded and managed residential facilities. While this has been a largely successful strategy to date, and is likely to remain so for the five year duration of the 2012 Campus Master Plan, for the longer term the University is considering what potential the campus has for hosting a limited amount of student residential accommodation.

It is anticipated this may prove attractive to some students, particularly in the early phase of their relocation to the Sunshine Coast region to study, with many then likely to move to the region’s attractive coastal centres such as Mooloolaba or Maroochydore.

In order to suggest how the campus could accommodate a future residential facility, the 2012 Campus Master Plan has nominated a site appropriate for this land use to the south of the existing rugby field, oriented to the east-west axis established by the already constructed sporting facilities. This site provides a generous northerly aspect, while minimising the extent of its western exposure to hot afternoon sun. Its location will effectively place this facility at the geographic centre of the campus, helping to integrate the east side sporting facilities with the academic zone to the west.

It is hoped a permanent student presence on campus may also foster and render more viable a number of the 2012 Campus Master Plan’s longer term proposals for improving the campus’ social vibrancy and student amenities. The structures' depth, height and density should reflect the requirements of a developed residential building brief, while notwithstanding its unique purpose, the building’s architectural expression should be visually sympathetic to the campus’ academic facilities.


Campus artwork

It is the policy of the 2012 Campus Master Plan that social spaces within the external environment should provide opportunity for the inclusion of works of art, particularly sculpture, and particularly sculptures of a scale that cannot reasonably be accommodated within buildings. The Art Gallery forecourt and the Bistro courtyard are examples of external social spaces lending themselves to the inclusion of works of art. A number of external spaces across the campus are designated as particularly appropriate for the presence of public art; art works should also be included within building briefs, as discussed in 7.5 Parking.


Utility buildings

Utility buildings include those facilities associated with the sewage pumping station, maintenance plant, waste management and stores. These uses are consolidated on two sites on the campus, to the north and south of the Secondary Building Zone. Clear access is provided for staff and maintenance, as well as some on-grade parking. Visual screening from the main campus is to be provided by planting.


Key sites 2012—2016

Previous iterations of the Campus Master Plan have proposed a number of development phases by which planned works may be sequenced over time. It is clear the University’s funding arrangements do not support this speculative attempt to prioritise the implementation of future projects, and as a consequence the 2012 Campus Master Plan instead proposes a small number of Key Sites proposed for likely development in the five year period of 2012—2016.

They include additional academic buildings which extend the main campus building axis towards the lake, development sites which establish a new building orientation to overlook the northern lake shore, the proposed Visitors Centre (refer discussion above), the new academic buildings H1 and E, the introduction of greater public space amenities in the art gallery forecourt, which may include a new permanent art gallery building, and the proposed introduction of commercial and Student Life and Learning facilities as infill development adjacent to the ground floor of the library’s north-east and north-west elevations.

This last proposal envisages introducing a number of commercial services at a central location on the campus, attractive to both the staff and student population. These may take the form of either individual tenancies, or if more financially viable, a single multi-purpose commercial tenancy or ‘general store’, offering a range of services.

The planning consultation process suggested these might include retailers such as a hairdresser, newsagent or post office. Alternatively, new commercial uses could be introduced incrementally through their receiving inclusion as part of new building briefs, suggesting a wider range of possible locations and services should be considered. For example, a bar or licensed restaurant could be introduced as part of the building works proposed near the campus lake.