The University of Canberra (UC) has outlined plans for a new, more connected campus with the release of the UC Master Plan today, 25 March.
The Master Plan will see the Bruce campus develop a series of “learning neighbourhoods” with a student, working and living population of approximately 45,000 people over the next 20 years. Included in the plan is a future alignment for light rail on campus, more accommodation, a University park, and a new arena for performing arts and sport.
UC Vice-Chancellor and president, Professor Paddy Nixon said the Master Plan will see the University become better connected to Belconnen and Bruce.
“It’s about blurring the boundaries between campus and community and really building opportunities to live and to learn all in one geography,” Professor Nixon said.
“The Master Plan will see UC become better connected to Belconnen and Bruce with a proposed alignment for future light rail service travelling from Civic through the UC Campus and onto the Belconnen precinct as well as better walking and cycling connections.”
The ambitious 20-year plan is predicted to be a five-billion-dollar investment, one that Professor Nixon said incorporates and honours the cultural heritage of the Ngunnawal land. He explained that the 60,0000 square metre increase in core university facilities is important to connecting with the local community.
“We’re a civic university and I am a passionate believer that you don’t have a university sitting on it’s own, being an ivory tower and being disconnected to the world,” he said.
“We’ve always been a university that’s been about professions, about applied research but we’re also a university that brings people…. connecting to the community is the only way to do that.”
Robert McGauram, MGS Architects director and lead consultant on the Master Plan said one of the key aspects of the design was the idea of people who leave the campus feeling “better and heathier, with more insights”.
“This has become more important post Covid…recognising that a University going forward that is truly part of a unit, part of a city, it needs to embed living on its campus, working on its campus, its partners being on the campus,” said Mr McGauram.
“The University of Canberra had started its journey with the hospital on campus and with its Brumbies partnership … It wants to take it’s ambition much further.”
Mr McGauram also said that the Master Plan will provide a benchmark model of how to move forward in true reconciliation with the traditional owners.
“I was deeply impressed with the University’s commitment with that in the beginning,” he said.
Member for Ginninderra, Tara Cheyne said the ACT Government is happy to have a conversation with the University about the larger projects, such as the light rail, that will benefit the whole community.
“It’s no secret from the ACT Government that Stage Three of the light rail is Belconnen to the airport. This is a conversation that the Government is looking forward to having with the community and with the University about exactly what route that will take,” she said.
“Now we have a plan there’s something we can look at and work with.”
The Campus Master Plan will be brought to life by the University working in close partnership with business and industry on opportunities for forward-looking co-investment across commercial, retail and hospitality spaces.
“Our Master Plan leverages the energy that comes with being Australia’s fastest rising university, paving a way over the next 20 years for a progressive and sustainable campus in the nation’s capital,” Professor Nixon said.
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