The Hawkesbury campus of the University of Western Sydney (UWS) is an extensive, historical campus located on the edge of Richmond town. It was one of the first agricultural colleges instituted in Australia and is notable for its distinctive heritage buildings and landscape. Jackson Teece was commissioned by UWS to prepare a Master Plan to guide the transformation of the campus to one that excels in the field of sustainability education and research.

The key concept underpinning the Master Plan is the establishment of an ‘exhibition campus’ that expresses the sustainability ethos of the campus through its planning. This is achieved on a number of levels – in the master planning as well as the presentation of the campus, in particular the sustainability focused research and activities of the campus.

The Master Plan rationalises the existing campus structure introducing simple but significant changes to the way people access the campus and move around within it. Circulation is designed to create a highly permeable network of routes for pedestrians, cyclists, buses, private cars, service vehicles and parking. These initiatives create a ‘walkable’ campus prioritising pedestrian and bicycle traffic, improving safety, and aiding the legibility of the campus.

The proposed public realm is designed to interface actively with adjacent ground level uses in the precinct, which include shared learning, administrative, social and recreational facilities accessed by the entire campus population. A new Student Precinct is proposed within the academic core along the major pedestrian route to create a vibrant heart for the campus, which it presently lacks. The proposed landscaping for the precinct takes its design cue from the character of the existing heritage landscape. Covered walkways and seating areas provide shelter from the climate and impart definition to the spaces.

The new public spaces create a much-improved setting for the heritage buildings in the precinct, drawing these presently under-utilised buildings into the heart of campus life. The result is a contemporary yet historically sensitive public realm design that will establish a strong identity for the campus. Further, areas of land that interface with Richmond have been identified for related development with uses such as sustainable residential development and town centre uses, such as retail and entertainment, to forge a closer integration between the campus and adjoining communities.