The University of Queensland Gatton Campus has grown to be a key part of the UQ legacy and continues to grow, providing critical research and education in the environmental and animal husbandry fields. Lat27 were engaged to develop and implement a design for the campus arrival precinct and central spine, with a vision to strengthen the connections between the historic and contemporary fabric; enhance the sense of arrival to the campus and create an activated and enhanced heart.
Gatton is situated halfway between Toowoomba and Ipswich and has long been a centre of learning and innovation for agricultural education. Several eras of architectural and historic influence have shaped the campus today. The Foundation Building (formerly the Administration Building) was the first building for the new college established in 1906. Over time a collection of buildings has been added to the campus some with a high level of architectural merit but without a clear ordering structure or interrelationship between them.
A critical historical change in orientation of the main entrance away from the Lawes railway to face the Warrego Highway, resulted in dual access points and a weakened sense of arrival and orientation within the campus. The historic avenue of Canary Island Date Palms creating a central spine within the university core remained the key point of navigation and was extended over time in the form of a paved plaza.
This project delivers a clearly identifiable arrival point at the campus heart; opening up views from the Inner Ring Road to the historic formal lawns and Canary palms that provide the heart its distinctive character and focal gathering space. The project is an opportunity to celebrate this space through activation with learning and gathering break out spaces to its edges.
The historic spine demonstrated the power of a single gesture in terms of scale and legibility. It also highlighted the attraction and place making qualities of lawn and good shade
to the edges for respite. The design built on this to establish the spine as the element that unifies the collection of buildings that have been added to the campus over time; highlighting arrival points to each, providing equitable access and introducing indoor / outdoor gathering and learning spaces.
The creation of a front door is also a critical component, establishing a clear drop off point, convenient short-term visitor / VIP parking and formalising space for functions and celebrations.
Simplicity was the key to the new master plan, to deliver a successful outcome for the University, Lat27:
The University established consultation with a representative of the local aboriginal people through whom we were able to test the authenticity of the proposed planting palette in terms of the local people’s historical relationship with the original landscape.
Project location: Corner Inner Ring Rd & Main Dr, 5391 Warrego Hwy, Gatton QLD 4343
Design year: 2019
Year Built: 2020