Macquarie University Central Courtyard Precinct, Sydney; Macquarie University Central Courtyard Precinct, Sydney;

Macquarie University Central Courtyard Precinct, Sydney

An engaging learning environment that promotes creativity and collaboration

Macquarie University’s revitalised Central Courtyard Precinct provides 40,000 students and more than 3,000 staff with new spaces and amenities to support creativity, collaboration and community on campus. 

The redevelopment project builds on more than 50 years’ history as a place of learning and recognises the important role of the campus in establishing and building relationships through access to specialised facilities in an accessible, attractive, green and safe space.

We were engaged in 2015 by Macquarie University with ASPECT Studios and Architectus to develop a Precinct Master Plan – a framework focussed on core project objectives including improved user comfort, effective transport, and sustainable use of resources. Input was gathered from students and staff to understand their current experience on campus, which informed concepts for new spaces and services, blending digital and physical architecture. Concepts such as reconfigurable learning spaces, outdoor meeting places, and community networks for resource sharing, were considered in the context of the architecture and engineering designs. 

We provided specialist advice across 17 disciplines and continue our longstanding relationship with the University, including collaboration on the award-winning Macquarie University Incubator and Ainsworth Building.

The Central Courtyard Precinct features a large contemporary landscape designed Central Courtyard by ASPECT Studios connecting to a new Residential Courtyard, which includes a five-storey building housing a new Graduation Hall, food and beverage outlets and teaching spaces.

An architectural icon, the Lincoln building is being refurbished together with landscaped surrounds, and in a first for the University – new student accommodation will encourage greater night-time use of the adjacent Central Courtyard and its plaza-facing retail areas. The Central Courtyard brings a new vibrancy and dynamism to campus life, beyond learning and teaching and gives real meaning to the University community.

Project Summary

68,000 m2 area of the campus revitalised

9new social and educational facilities

341new bedsfor student accommodation

Linking digital and physical architecture

Technology continues to change how we learn and interact with the physical world around us. 

With teaching content increasingly online and students opting to use their own devices, there’s a growing demand for comfortable and fit-for-purpose spaces that allow students to choose how, and where they want to learn – online or offline, on and off campus. 

In line with the University’s desire to bring the campus to life 24/7, we focused on creating a digital, audio visual and learning services architecture that centres around user experience and unlocks the full potential of physical spaces.

Students and staff were engaged to better understand how technology could improve the experience of new learning spaces and student accommodation in the precinct, including helping to create communities, improve sustainability and adaptability of space and encourage diversity and lifelong learning. 

The new central building provides an engaging learning environment that promotes creativity, collaboration and the testing of ideas. It includes a variety of room sizes, formats and facilities that support different education techniques, from large format classrooms to group and individual student workspaces.

The prevailing focus has been on flexibility of use with students and staff able to adapt the spaces to meet their needs.

It’s a privilege to work alongside Macquarie University to realise their vision for the Central Courtyard – their commitment to constantly improving user experience and providing a sustainable, vibrant and connected campus for their students and academics has influenced every aspect of the design. ”

Enrico Cara headshot Enrico Zara Project Manager

Sustainable design

Designed by Architectus, the new buildings serve multiple functions and deliver modern social and educational infrastructure.

From an architecture perspective, the new wave of buildings at Macquarie University are much softer (many of the buildings built in the 1960s were harsh in form) – with the use of more timber, transparency, natural light and with sustainability a key to their design, use and maintenance.

Building envelopes maximise passive ventilation to help reduce air-conditioning costs while still providing comfortable conditions for users. The new five-level ‘Hub’ is the largest project element and the heart of the Central Courtyard Precinct, and indeed the campus. It features a full height central atrium designed to allow visual connection between floors and maximise natural ventilation and daylight.

The building envelope has also been optimised for each different orientation to reduce heating and cooling loads and to allow views of the lake and parkland.

The new student accommodation tower’s design achieves a carbon neutral target that both minimises operational costs for the University, and provides a distinctive ambience.

We developed a precinct-wide power, communications, and security strategy to optimise efficiencies and minimise system maintenance, including the strategic location of a central plant system to minimise distribution costs. 

Due to multiple building atriums, our fire engineers identified a single precinct-wide standby generator for cost efficiency.

All buildings have been designed and built to meet 5 Star Green Star certification and the precinct has been funded with a Sustainability Bond.

The Central Courtyard is a place where life-long memories at Macquarie University will be made. Redevelopment of this precinct stays true to its original purpose of a meeting place that brings together the campus community, but also introduces a fresh, modern ambience for future generations of students, staff and visitors. ” Professor S. Bruce Dowton Macquarie University Vice-Chancellor

Woman walking through a large courtyard with trees and seating at night Woman walking through a large courtyard with trees and seating at night

Adding dimension to the campus after dark

Our lighting masterplan enhances the central focus of the campus, activating spaces, integrating wayfinding, and creating an uplifting and elegant night-time experience.

Control systems allow for dynamic lighting that can respond to changing environmental and usage patterns. The lighting has been designed and curated to minimise light spill into the night sky for better health and environmental outcomes.

Designed by ASPECT Studios, the courtyard is the heart of Macquarie University and the team’s vision has been to make it the central focus of the campus by incorporating lighting into the landscape while facilitating storytelling and wayfinding.

The natural environment around the University plays a significant aesthetic role during the day. The new lighting accentuates this natural beauty at night to deliver stronger visual connections to the lake and environs, while blending with the central courtyard and complementing new and existing architecture.

Precinct scene settings and control systems allow for dynamic lighting that allows for flexibility and can respond to changing environmental and usage patterns. The lighting has been designed and curated to minimise light spill into the night sky for better health and environmental outcomes.

A considered accentuation of elements within the natural and built environment – from low level lighting of benches, planter beds and landscaping features, to illuminated pathways and spaces, and vertical lighting of architectural features – makes the Central Courtyard a place people will want to be.