Bringing the plan to life

To bring the plan to life and create a great place, the project will bring together the elements of 'Product', 'Place', 'Program', 'People' and 'Planet' as outlined below:


The success of the project is ultimately driven by people. 

Engagement with the campus community and beyond will help make sure the project is succesful. 

During the next phase members of the ANU community as well as key stakeholders will be given regular updates and invited to provide feedback about the project. 

Indigenous research and contextual story telling will be undertaken and reflected in elements of the public realm design and events programming in the precinct. 


The project aspires to meet the sustainability challenges of the present and future through a holistic and comprehensive sustainability strategy and is targeting an ecological efficiency performance that is consistent with the ecological limits of the planet.

To achieve this vision, the project is utilising the concept of the Ecological Footprint and total life cycle carbon footprint. The Ecological Footprint is an evidenced based measure which calculates humanities demand on nature, giving an understanding of how much we have, how much we use, and who uses what and communicates it tangibly in terms of hectares per person (and Planet Equivalent).

A development that is estimated to have a planet equivalent score of one or less is considered to be truly sustainable. ANU recognises these ecological limits and this project has set a target of 0.5 planet equivalent performance, positioning it as a world’s best practice leader in the context of sustainable campuses. 

In order to achieve this target, cutting edge sustainability measures will be applied across all aspects of the precinct with a focus on areas that make the greatest contribution to its ecological footprint. Elements for life cycle assessment include: land bio-capacity, materials of construction, infrastructure, operating energy, water and transport as well as consumption (i.e. operational expenditure and services).


The Union Court 'Product' - it's public realm, shops, services, accomodation and key facilities, will develop considerably in the current phase and involve significant input from the ANU Design Working Groups. Brief summaries of the elements follow:   

The Public Realm

The public realm within the precinct is one of the defining features of the proposed plan. The design has been developed to balance respect for the environmental qualities and broader garden campus philosophy with the needs and aspirations of the campus community for a lively and social place. 

A series of 'rooms', each with a distinct purpose and identity, have been established; creating a network of public places and spaces of different scales to create a range of experiences and facilitate interation between people. These spaces include streets, squares, lanes, roof terrace, gardens, lawns and creek-edge environments designed to engage our senses and inspire us; providing periods of intense activity that are interspersed with respite and moments of contemplation. Always ensuring that we have taken care to maintain glimpses of the garden campus beyond the precinct and preserve significant views. 

A more intensive social and cultural events program will bring the campus to life throughout the day and week, both during and outside semester. Leveraging the formal and informal venues that the masterplan incorporates to encourage activites at a range of scales; providing new venues for well-loved events, attracting events from off campus and facilitating the curation of new event formats. 

University Avenue will be a critical link to the city. Interesting buildings, design elements and tree architecture will be critical to delivering this link.


There will be a revitalisation of the precinct's cafes and retail, with a combination of old favourites and new cafes, bars and shops that will provide more options for students and staff, but also attract Canberrans to campus.

Student Services (Student Life and Student Central)

Student services are currently spread across the campus and hard to navigate. The new hub for university services and student programs will be central to Union Court and bring together student administration, student life, global programs, student recruitment, ANUSA, PARSA, clubs and societies; centralised and with a 'one stop shop' experience. The 'expanded' Griffin Hall will also be located here, creating a new home on-campus for Canberra students who live off campus. 

Health & Wellbeing

A new high quality health and wellbeing clinic will provide increased access to GP and counselling services, together with a range of specialised clinics. The delivery of this centre will support a more comprehensive and proactive approach to health and wellbeing across the ANU community. 

Gym and Pool

All great universities have strong sporting clubs and facilities. They also have a wide range of sporting spaces that cater to the diverse needs of the campus community. These sporting facilities should include not just traditional sports, but sports popular amongst international students, and facilities for informal sports. 

To integrate with the University's health and wellbeing strategy, Union Court will feature a swimming pool and new gym. 

Cultural and Events

“Always open and always something going on” is a hallmark of great campuses around the world. Union Court will be home to the wide range of cultural, social and academic events and activities on the campus, bringing them together in one place. A centralised cultural events program is key to developing the wider connection with the cit and its community and to extending the life of Union Court after hours. 

Cultural and events facilities will include:

  • a new set of high quality, dynamic and flexible event and function spaces,
  • a purpose built ANU Film Club theatre,
  • gallery space along University Avenue,
  • flexible community rooms,
  • bars or spaces that can accommodate live music,
  • outdoor gallery spaces for art exhibitions,
  • an amphitheatre on Sullivans Creek for both planned and impromptu outdoor events,
  • a studio for DJ and radio.

Education Facilities (lecture theatres and tutorial rooms)

Creating teaching and learning spaces that are second-to-none is a fundamental priority of the project and has been central to its planning and design. The current teaching and learning spaces are spread across campus, many of those spaces are old, run down and under-utilised. 

The new learning spaces will be designed for teaching and learning of the future, providing spaces that change how teaching is done, responding to ANU Education 2025 and emerging digital learning. These spaces will enable more flexible teaching and increase the potential for collaboration between students and academic staff. 

Existing teaching facilities in University Avenue and Union Court, including the Manning Clark Centre, will be replaced by a number of multi-purpose, multimodal, flexible learning spaces which are embedded with new digital infrastructure. A dedicated Executive Education space is also proposed. 

Student Accommodation

ANU is a living University and, while the campus is already home for more than 5,000 students, there is not enough housing for everyone who wants to live on campus. Increasing the number of people living on the campus will also increase the safety and liveliness of the precinct throughout the year; supporting the shops and cafes that enhance the experience for the whole University community. 

The project now includes additional accomodation for approximately 430 students. 

Commercial Space

Union Court will include ‘live/work’ commercial space as an important component. Commercial suites could be occupied by a variety of businesses be they small start-ups, professional services, retail, other commercial uses or even residential. Designed to be flexible in use they provide important variety in the built form, linking the village to the city. 


The revitalisation Union Court will include a new 75-place childcare facility, with appropriate drop-off and pick-up parking bays and outdoor space. 

Pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle access

ANU is spread over a large space with pedestrian and bike paths and roads that are poorly integrated. The Union Court revitalisation project ives us an opportunity to rethink all of these links as they relate to the University, taking care to maintain the positive attributes associated with the campus.


The Urban Design Framework has been developed to guide the future development of the Union Court and University Avenue precinct. It is respectful of the heritage and pastoral quality of the campus and responds to the established context  and connections. The Framework is underpinned by a series of ‘big ideas’ that will drive the delivery of a great urban place, meet the needs and aspirations of the campus community and engage more effectively with the rest of Canberra.

  1. A learning and innovation ecology that clusters new teaching and learning environments, innovation spaces and asignature library and learning commons around Union Courtas a social focus,
  2. An urban village model that creates a network of high quality third spaces, delivering a diversity of experiences and interactions that encourage a shared social, cultural and academic life within a vibrant network of streets and open spaces,
  3. An urban lifestyle within a walkable mixed-use precinct that provides places of compression and aggregation in a human scale environment where buildings frame the streets,
  4. Integrating nature and celebrating the living systems of the site including its social heritage. Extending the natural landscape into key buildings and creating areas of recreation and contemplation,
  5. Accessible, connected and legible, the framework establishes clear points of access and gateways, a loop road and a fine grain grid network,
  6. Extending the Griffin legacy by strengthening the main axis of University Avenue and introducing the grid of streets and laneways that knit into the established road network
  7. ,Creating destinations for campus and town through the generous provision of cultural, recreational and programmable spaces that become a platform for events and experiences that engage the University with its community.


A year round liveliness and programme of activities and events will be a feature of the revitalised Union Court to make sure it is an attractive destination for both the University and the wider Canberra community all year round. 

Union Court will provide space for events and activities to come together in one place and will be managed in a way that will simplify the process of organising events in the precinct.  

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