Victoria University Footscray, Courtyards

Location \ Victoria University, Ballarat Road Footscray, Melbourne
Client \ Victoria University
Consultants \Taylor Thomson Whitting, Electrolight, Wilde and Woollard, Surf Coast Surveyors, PLP Building Surveyors, Coffey Environments, MGT Environmental Consulting, Australian Underground Services
Budget \ AUD$1.1M

Part of a wider development for the facilities at Victoria University’s Footscray Park Campus, RWA was engaged to re-develop two of the major courtyard spaces within the campus – the Eastern and Western Courtyards.

The Eastern Courtyard needed to shift its focus to a more student orientated space which could be used for functions associated with the adjacent Union Building, Café and Shops and The Western Courtyard has now become a unique space with improved seating opportunities and places to relax or participate in small study groups.

Rush\Wrights exploratory design redefines what is possible within what are usually very staid and conservative campus landscape outcomes. The design responds to a changing campus population by providing key elements which can be utilised in a number of different ways during different times of the year.

Both courtyards needed to function at both a campus level and a courtyard level. Access and permeability at a campus level was a key issue as there are many level changes across the campus and universal access has been difficult to achieve. The ramp within the Eastern Courtyard provides universal access into the space on a 24 hour basis but also provides an alternate route for all students moving between buildings.

At a courtyard level each of the spaces respond appropriately by providing enough open area to hold functions and events whilst creating different surfaces and seating forms for study, relaxation, meetings, markets and so on. The Eastern Courtyard has become the focus for entertainment within the campus by providing location and power outlets for a stage and marquees where students can view events from the seating forms, tiered seating and sloped grass plane.

RWAs engagement with the University began in November 2005 and construction of the projects ran for 8 months until recent completion in September 2007.

The courtyards at VU suggest that landscape can become a new form of campus emblem not unlike the iconic buildings of recent Melbourne developments.