Curtin University, in Perth, Western Australia, has embarked on a massive urban renewal project focused on creating a “knowledge city”. Code-named Curtin City the project will deliver a new population of students, researchers, and residents of up to 70,000 people living and working in Perth’s newest knowledge economy. Connected to the city by the MAX light rail transit, Curtin City will be only minutes from downtown Perth, enabling the rapid exchange of business and research ideas.
The Curtin City project is a bold step for the University as it plans for a new future of high-density research and living within a strong landscape urbanism framework. Building on existing distributed energy systems and green infrastructure networks the campus will be transformed by 2030 as Perth’s urban population grows to 3.5 million.
The first step in Curtin’s transformation is the re-engagement and activation of the existing academic core. As one of Australia’s largest universities with over 45,000 students and 3,500 staff, Curtin required a rethink of its urban fabric and function. With a history similar to many universities, Curtin has a collection of singular use buildings that do not perform like one would expect of a city. They are not connected and sit within a campus setting isolated from the urban fabric surrounding it.
The Place Activation Plan utilizes a place-led approach to campus revitalization and relies on the concept of strengthening key parts to improve the whole. It is not just a beautification or a schedule of physical changes; it is a careful consideration of a variety of destinations, attractions, and activities, which may be physical, spatial, or programmatic.
Unlike typical top-down master planning, the Place Activation Plan will:
- be used as a guiding document to activate the campus from a physical, programed and management perspective;
- be developed to incorporate ideas and strategies that come from the Curtin community including students, staff and interest groups;
- focus on key public places within the university as well as buildings and other assets across the academic core; and
- evolve quickly into an implementation strategy incorporating small scale, do-able improvements that can be started right away.
Please feel free to download the Curtin University Place Activation Plan for more information.
Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia
Andy Sharp, Director Campus Development
PLACE Laboratory (Place Shaping, Landscape Architecture)
TPG (Project Manager, Urban Design)
Project for Public Spaces–PPS (Place Making)
Place Match (Strategic Place Making)
Studio 53 (Architecture)
by Cathy Blake, ASLA, and Andy Sharp