The aim of the Community Garden for the University of Queensland St Lucia campus is to showcase the University’s community & sustainability ethos. The project challenges the traditional aesthetic based, campus landscape typology, creating a multi-functional and productive space encouraging community engagement. It was undertaken by Lat27 in partnership with DWP Architects.
The primary drivers for this garden included the creation of a formal arrival to the campus, provision of a productive garden to support the adjacent childcare centre learning program, and the staff and students of the university, respect for the natural landform of the site, celebration of views and capturing breezes across the site, creation of shaded passive gathering opportunities, integration with the existing campus design aesthetic and materiality and enhanced accessible connectivity across the site.
The design proposed a series of spaces each with its own function; with the more formal spaces located to enhance the sense of arrival into the campus, transitioning to less formal, relaxed and working spaces to the back of the site. These included sculptural community gathering space, wrapped in terraced seating, shaded by Jacaranda trees with a sculptural water feature and UQ sculpture as its focus; the perfect spot for graduation gatherings and photographs against the purple blossom backdrop, relaxed picnic settings on the crest of the hill under the shade of existing trees, formal olive grove providing a transition between arrival spine and the less formal growing space, shaded gathering space including barbecue, demonstration area and seating and tables for outdoor learning and eating, an accessible community garden and garden shed (architecture by Lat27) and amenities, shade structure, pergola by architecture DWP.
The community garden was inspired through a series of community garden workshops run by the University to formulate a brief for the space. In partnership, the detail of how the space would be managed was worked through; including communication of work sequences through a notice board system, inclusion of wash down facilities, a shed for tool and chemical lock up, a fridge for gardeners to keep their lunches in, taps for hand watering, composting facilities and even a place for bee hives.
The success of the space relies on the creation of partnerships. The adjacent childcare has access as part of their learning program. The university have a community garden group who manage the space. There is also the opportunity to partner with local aged care and community groups.
All ages and abilities
The community garden was carefully set into the slope of the site to achieve all abilities access to the majority of it, with the garden beds stepped across the fall presenting the opportunity to create standard bed heights at one end and lower bed heights at the other for the children using the garden. The sinks also catered for all abilities whist also having a lower height sink for the small children. The project additionally creates an accessible link through the site navigating the challenging topography to better improve connectivity.
This was a complex site in terms of its topography. The site was riddled with shallow services in all directions, dictating that the site could only be built up- avoiding excavation. The layout made the best of this, celebrating the natural bowl of the landform to the corner of the site as a stepped community gathering space for small events, while integrating the community garden to the back of the space.
The project demonstrates that a high quality and contemporary aesthetic can be achieved using a native plant palette. The plant palette is predominantly native with the only exotic species flowering in the campus signature purple; acknowledging the signature campus Jacarandas by incorporating these to shade the terraces and incorporating purple flowers on the arbour structure. The native palette ties in with the existing campus palette, with existing trees on site preserved where good quality, providing structure and shade to the space while the smaller new trees establish. This palette responds to the site context requiring less water and maintenance.
The transformation of this key space at the arrival to the campus supports the university’s profile, delivering an identifiable space that underpins the university’s community and sustainability ethos. The activation of this space additionally attracts users from beyond the campus, welcoming visitors throughout the calendar year, broadening its reach to the community.
The project was delivered from initial briefing to completion on site in under 12 months to meet the University timeframe. This was achieved through a collaborative relationship between design and delivery; working with the contractor on materials, lead times and buildability opportunities to tighten the typical program.
Name of the project: University of Queensland Community Garden, St Lucia
Project category: Public Project
Role of the entrant in the project: Landscape Architect
Other designers involved in the design of landscape (if any): DWP Architects, Naturform
Project location: 355 Sir Fred Schonell Drive, St Lucia, Queensland 4067 Australia
Design year: 2018
Year Built: 2019