Frequently Asked Questions

Which area of the ANU Campus is under consideration in this project?

Approval has been given for an initial stage of the masterplan concentrated on Union Court and the revitalisation of University Avenue to Childers Street. 

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How far advanced is the project?
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The revitalisation of Union Court and University Avenue has been under consideration since 2013. Detailed master planning, design briefs, technical studies as well as an extensive cross campus engagement have been undertaken over the past 24 months. In April 2016, the University Council approved in principle the revitalisation of Union Court and University Avenue. The approval was for an initial stage of the masterplan concentrated in Union Court and University Avenue to Childers Street.

Read more about the revitalisation timeline here.

You can have your say on the ‘Pop-up Village’ here. You can also provide feedback here.

How was the urban design team selected?
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For such a high profile, complex and multifaceted project it was important to source organisations with relevant experience and expertise.  Early in 2015 a process was run using the University’s Facilities and Services procurement systems and as a result a Vancouver based team from CIVITAS, together with Melbourne based Oculus was selected from a range of Australian and international firms. Read more here.

Union Court and University Avenue have always been significant places – how will their heritage be acknowledged and preserved?
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Over the years, Union Court has been the venue for many activities and memorable moments for ANU students, staff and alumni. As the design is developed, ongoing consultation will inform how the heritage of the site is incorporated into the revitalised precinct to ensure the things that are valued most by our community are not lost.

The development team is working with Howard Tanner, a distinguished architect with an extensive background in Australian heritage architecture, and liaising extensively with the ANU Heritage Officer.

A heritage assessment of the existing buildings has identified that they are generally not exceptional or notable and replacement with a higher standard of building is desirable with the exception of the Chifley Library.

A new entry to Union Court for the Chifley library via a pedestrian bridge and an additional entry will form part of the design development package and be developed in close consultation with the heritage architect.

The revitalisation plans will take into account the memories and experiences of former staff and students as well as representatives from the local Indigenous community. 

The original tree and landscape heritage is an important component of the revitalisation. The revitalisation plans will focus on the University Avenue plantings to more closely reflect the ‘boulevard' envisaged in the original Griffin Plan.

What will happen to the existing buildings and works of art?
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Some of the existing buildings will be repurposed or refurbished, including the Chifley Library, while others will be demolished. Any artworks or artefacts will be preserved and relocated. 

This seems very commercial in orientation; will it feel like a Westfield Shopping Centre?
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No. What we are trying to achieve is a new heart to the University, with a village atmosphere, energy and activity.  We understand the important role of cafes, shops and services in meeting the needs of the University community and supporting day to day operations on campus. The development will be contemporary and relevant, similar in scale and volume to the shops and services available on campus currently.

We hope that the cafe’s, bars and other venues will appeal to the wider Canberra community and support the existing public events program. Having more variety and engaging spaces will give the community more reasons to visit campus and to stay for longer. This will be a key measure of success for our aspiration of bringing the campus and the city closer together.

How is the project being funded – does it divert money from the University’s academic mission?
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The University has a dedicated capital management plan for academic facilities and funding that is already allocated to major academic projects such as the first stage of the physics redevelopment and the refurbishment of the Coombs Building. The Union Court project will not use these funds.

The University will make a capital contribution to the signature teaching and learning facilities in Union Court – or in other words, invest in the new buildings that generate a direct academic return including the library and teaching spaces. This will have to be considered by the University Council, separately from the main academic capital program.  The University will be considering external investment for other non-academic elements and believes the proposition will be attractive to investors. With external investors the development will be undertaken on a cost neutral basis.  

This is a large capital investment - can we do it in stages?
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The creation of a revitalised Union Court with facilities and amenities that compare with the best in the world is central to the project. Many of the elements are intrinsically connected. While staging is possible, delaying the delivery of the individual elements may compromise the acheivement of our vision for Union Court. 

Who approves the developments at the ANU?
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The revitalisation of Union Court will be undertaken in line with the new Precinct Code approved by the National Capital Authority. Additional consultation will be undertaken with the ACT Planning Authority where appropriate. Major decisions about the redevelopment are made by the University Council.

How does this project respond to the University’s sustainability agenda?
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This project is ambitious with respect to its sustainability objectives; we have chosen to use a “One Planet” framework approach to measure our performance. The project aspiration is to achieve an 0.5 or less planet equivalent performance, which in simple terms would deliver an asset which is at worst neutral and at best, restorative in terms of its demand on nature (see How it Comes to Life).

Achieving these ambitious objectives will require the best in class from all aspects of design as well as proactive, creative and collaborative thinking.

Sustainability does however go beyond the One Planet Goals and therefore the essential ingredients include a holistic approach to what we aspire to deliver, one that provides the most sustainable platform for retail and other commercial enterprises to thrive, an environment that fosters healthy minds, life long learning, not semester driven learning and one that ultimately aims to contribute positively to the planet and the human condition.

When will this project start and finish?
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On 1 April 2016, in principle approval was given to the project and to proceed with the development of an Investment Proposal.

The intention is for the project to be completed as quickly as possible to minimise disruption to University life. The current development programme (subject to University approvals) proposes to commence construction by July 2017 and complete construction by December 2018. The retail fitouts, relocations and other commissions in the precinct would be complete by February 2019.

A revitalisation programme overview can be found here.

Will the existing businesses in Union Court will be evicted?
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No decision regarding the current businesses in Union Court have been made. Any decisions will be made in consultation with the individual businesses involved.

How high will the buildings be?
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The buildings will be a mixture of heights.  Most of the buildings shown here are between 6-8 storeys which is well within the 12 storey height limit set for the campus.

We have heard a lot about residential accommodation and I am concerned about this becoming a private development, full of people with no relationship to the University.
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ANU does not intend to create residential units that are for sale or rent in the open market.  Additional residential accommodation for the University is an important part of the project and is being considered alongside the strategic and long term objectives of the University. 

There is a long waiting list for on campus residential accomodation. There are also parts of the ANU community looking for a different style and type of accomodation than is currenly available. The precinct will see a shift of accommodation from the campus’ fringe into its heart.

What is going to happen to the ANU Arts Centre?
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Based on the current plan, the ANU Arts Centre will be demolished, however its role and function will be largely incorporated in a range of new elements that form part of the culture and events facilities. The working group for the events and cultural spaces is actively considering these issues.

How have you engaged with the campus community?
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We have been working in consultation with the campus community since September 2013 and so far we have actively engaged with more than 1,500 people. This engagement has been through topic specific working and focus groups, general activities hosted in Union Court (March 2015), the Reimagine Our ANU Event (August 2015), as well as online at

During this period 25,000 comments have been collected from the University community. This material has helped the University shape the design development for the master plan as well as the individual elements of the brief.

Can I still get involved?
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There will be plenty of opporuntities to contribute your views and ideas. We are currently seeking input and feedback on the ‘Pop-up Village’. You can also register your interest to recieve regular updates via our newsletter or leave a comment here.

Who will occupy the commercial spaces in the precinct?
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Flexible ‘live/work’ commercial space is an important component in the new precinct. Commercial suites could be occupied by a variety of businesses including startups, small professional services, retail, other commercial businesses or residential. The project team will, through the design development process, identify opportunities for part of the development.

‘Pop-up Village’: What will the ‘Pop-up Village’ look like?
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The ‘Pop-up Village’, given its short life, will be a significant departure from the existing experience, look and feel of Union Court. The design team is currently developing options for the ‘look and feel’ of the ‘Pop-up Village’ and seeking input and feedback from the ANU community.

‘Pop-up Village’: How will the ‘Pop-up Village’ be activated?
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A programme of events and creative installations will be introduced as part of the ‘Pop-up Village’ to deliver vibrancy and enliven the precinct after hours. The programme will be developed to cater to a wide range of tastes and is likely to include live music, art installations, theatre, outdoor cinema and light installations. 

‘Pop-up Village’: What hours will the ‘Pop-up Village’ operate?
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The ‘Pop-up Village’ will operate to meet the day and night time needs of the University community. Opening hours may vary to integrate with the ongoing ANU programme. The ‘Pop-up Village’ will remain open during semester breaks. 

‘Pop-up Village’: What type of spaces will be accessible to the ANU community?
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The ‘Pop-up Village’ will be home to a range of spaces accessible to the ANU Community. Spaces will include communal breakout spaces, dining areas, grassed areas, and event spaces.  Spaces will be designed to provide comfortable gathering and seating spaces in all seasons and weather conditions. 

‘Pop-up Village’: Which shops, and services will be located in the ‘Pop-up Village’?
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The ‘Pop-up Village’ will provide a range of shops and services to meet the everyday needs of the ANU community. The following shops and services are currently being considered:

  • University and student services including ANUSA, PARSA, Chaplaincy and ANU Careers
  • A range of retail services such as a hairdresser, barber, travel agent, Chemist, book store, and ATMs
  • A range of quality and affordable dining options - including cafes, a bar, and food trucks offering a range of food options and cuisines
‘Pop-up Village’: Will the existing shop operators in Union Court be relocated to the ‘Pop-up Village’?
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The type and number of retail outlets for the ‘Pop-up Village’ is yet to be determined. ANU is currently exploring options for this and the completed Union Court revitalisation, including the potential to relocate existing shop operators.

‘Pop-up Village’: Where will the ‘Pop-up Village’ be located?
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The ‘Pop-up Village’ will be located on University Avenue near the intersection of Ellery Crescent. The precise site details at this location are yet to be determined.

This location has been chosen as it provides a range of amenity with deciduous trees, grassy areas and sunlight in winter. 

What is the ‘Pop-up Village’?
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Part of the project will include the establishment of a ‘Pop-up Village’ that will be home to relocated shops and services, student services and common spaces during the construction phase.

The ‘Pop-up Village’ will include a range of existing and new food and beverage outlets, a bar, a programme of cultural events including live music, outdoor cinema and art installations. You won’t miss out on any student services – they will be located within the heart of the ‘Pop-up Village’. The ‘Pop-up Village’ will provide a taste of what is to come when the long-term revitalisation is complete. 

Learn more about the ‘Pop-up Village’, and have your say here.

Recreational Facilities: What other recreational facilities will be provided?
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As part of the proposal for the public realm we have investigated other informal sports and recreational opportunities including a basket ball half court, badminton, table tennis and volleyball facilities – a range of these will be outdoor and provided at a low or no cost.

Recreational Facilities: Will we get a swimming pool?
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There has been an overwhelming amount of support from the campus community for a swimming pool.  If approved for construction, the pool and an integrated gym will be set in the heart of the campus.

Recreational Facilities: What is happening to Fellows Oval?
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Fellows Oval will stay where it is and its program expanded. Upgrades to both the player and spectator amenities have also been proposed.  

Student Life: Will Griffin Hall be replaced as we notice it is scheduled for demolition?
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Griffin Hall is very important for students who live off campus and a new and improved facility will be incorporated into the Union Court precinct.

Student Life: What is the plan for student services?
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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 program, 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 for students who live off campus. 

Childcare: How many new childcare places are being created?
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A new 75-place childcare facility is planned, with approporiate drop-off and pick-up parking bays and outdoor space. 

Cultural and Events: Is the ANU School of Music moving?
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The ANU School of Music enjoys a commanding position outside of the precinct and will remain where it is, however the precinct will offer a contemporary provision of spaces for musical performance and engagement.

Read more about the cultural spaces proposed for the precinct here.

Cultural and Events: What will happen to Uni Bar?
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The Uni Bar will be replaced as part of the revitalisation of Union Court, replaced with venues for live music performances (at all scales) and small bars. A licenced bar will als be included within the 'Pop-up Village'. 

Teaching and Education Spaces: Will the Manning Clarke Centre be replaced?
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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 old, run down and under-utilised. 

The new learning spaces will be designed for teaching and learning of the future, providing spaces that changes to 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.  

Teaching and Education Spaces: Why do we need new teaching and learning spaces?
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New teaching and learning spaces will support the University’s transition from a teacher-led approach to one that fosters student-teacher and student-student collaboration. It will also address the variations in age, form and quality of our existing facilities and enhance their ability to accommodate digital technology platforms.

Health and Wellbeing: What will happen to the current medical centre facilities and team?
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A new health and wellbeing building with an increased range of services that reflect the needs of the campus community is a core component of the revitalisation plan. The existing medical centre will continue to offer its services as normal until this facility has been completed.

A new high quality health and wellbeing clinic will provide increased access to GP and counselling services, together with a range of specialised clinics. 

Health and Wellbeing: Does the new clinic mean that there will be more appointments available?
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Yes. One of the goals of the project is to improve access to the services most under pressure on campus, including the medical and counselling services.  Our objective is to have more central and accessible services that can accommodate a larger team of practitioners and is open for longer hours during the week – especially during peak periods of the year.

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