This is one of several challenging projects jwConcepts have been commissioned to design and successfully completed at the University of Queensland’s St. Lucia campus. The vision for this courtyard was to function in both a break-out and exhibition capacity for the recently constructed Learning and Innovation Building (designed by Richard Kirk Architects). The intent was consistent with the site’s limitations and laid the foundations for a minimalistic approach to furnishings and plantings.
With a three storey 20th Century heritage listed building of sandstone and granite to its north and the stunning new Learning and Innovation Building enveloping the courtyard space, the design required a unique, enduring planting palette and robust materials of a scale and finish that help provide a rational flow and unifying aesthetic to the enclosed space. The selection of materials was shaped by the existing finishes, however effort to complement rather than replicate those finishes through subtle variations in texture and bold declarations helped synthesise the spatial connections between the buildings.
Due to the existence of parent rock close to the surface of the site, soil preparation and profile was considered crucial to the long term success of this landscape. jwConcepts blended practical experience with specialist advice to develop a soil profile that facilitated long term available moisture to new plantings, species specific nutritional elements, structural profiles in subgrades where footpaths traverse root zones, and a sound drainage strategy.
Typical to enclosed and restricted spaces, the installation of advanced trees and sizeable granite seating blocks posed one last logistical challenge for the builder and landscape contractor. A 250 tonne crane was required to hoist materials and advanced plantings over the newly constructed building and place them with precision on the prepared ground plane. A high level of communication between all parties and quality inspections at critical junctures during the construction phase was necessary to achieve the co-ordinated response that the site constraints presented.
Testament to an informed design and adaptive process, jwConcepts has further been commissioned to design and document an enhancement project for the adjoining heritage courtyard which is an important heritage axial link directly to the Great Court within the University. Construction on the Hancock Courtyard is programmed to commence in the first week of September.
14 Minimine Street, Stafford Queensland 4053
Images from top:
1. Harcourt Granite Seating;
2. Complementary range of finishes provide a variety of textures;
3. Hoisting Cabbage Tree Palms Livistona australis;
4. Feature trees include the deciduous Ginko G.biloba and an ancient native Cycad Macrozamia moorei;
5. Internal planter box on podium level.