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Location: Perth, Australia
Type: Educational – Public
Architects: JCY Architects and Urban Designers
Project Team: Glenn Russell – Project Architect, Brent Aitkenhead, Andy Boyatzis
Photographs: Rob Ramsay
Curtin University’s future development and growth is undergoing significant change and challenges. A number of planning documents have been established as guidelines in the future development of the broader campus expansion and university’s recognition of creating greater aspirations in developing a student focused campus; in providing a campus where students are attracted to study and participate in ‘campus life’ as an essential balance in furthering education.
Key to the recognition and implementation of the campuses place-led approach to the university’s revitalization is the ‘Place Activation Plan’ established in 2012. The purpose of the ‘Place Activation Plan’ was to identify key places within the Curtin campus requiring revitalization, each contributing in part to activating the campus as a whole and providing a variety of inter-connected destinations encompassing physical change, programmed and non-programmed events and activities, greater diversity and an improved campus environment to be shared by staff, students and visitors.
A number of key destinations have been identified across the campus to achieve place activation outcomes linked by the primary North-South internal pedestrian avenue, the ‘Curtin Corso’.
Wesfarmers Court was identified as one of the key ‘destinations’ throughout the campus with a strong connection to the ‘Curtin Corso’, the university’s business sector and the future development of the northern structure plan which is currently underway. This new northern precinct will develop into the new ‘gateway’ to the Curtin campus, strengthening connections to the main, pedestrian avenues and the refurbished Wesfarmers Court precinct.
Wesfarmers Court is the first project completed within the Place Activation masterplan with the principle aim for the revitalization of the courtyard to create a flexible and adaptable space to showcase Curtin’s Business School activities through promoting greater utilization of this space and as the new gateway ‘hub’.
The project consists of a steel framed structure inserted between the Curtin Business School, Angazi Cafe and the Lance Twomney Theatre. The steel structure’s large expanse covers the entire courtyard to provide a framework defining a functioning courtyard with perimeter perforated screens and a fully operable roof canopy that respond to the varying climatic conditions and seasonal changes. The structure has been fitted with a large media screen for events and presentations, heaters, feature lighting and a ticker tape display ‘loop’ displaying information and current news items.
The space has been dispersed with various loose furniture to allow for a versatile function area that can perform to a variety of events from weddings, networking events, music entertainment, outdoor lectures and presentations as well as the day to day social hub for students.
Future stages of the redevelopment of this precinct will involve the demolition of two concrete classroom ‘pods’ under the Business School building. This will open up the northern vista, an extension of the ticker tape display loop to form the northern gateway entry point of the ‘corso’ pedestrian avenue. It will also incorporate the expansion of the function areas, landscaping and various pop-up retail outlets housed within shipping containers.
The introduction of small pop-up retail outlets or a bar will serve to encourage greater campus activation and extended trading hours for the existing café. Night time activities such as movie nights or musical performances will encourage students to better engage and interact with their campus in the creation a lively, activated and attractive learning environment.