Design Guidelines
Macquarie University Property
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Landscape Design


Landscape Design is the general term, encompasses all the elements surrounding the buildings and facilities as well as the connection areas between the various buildings on the campus.

  • Elements included in the Landscape design are categorized in the following :
  • Hard Works – includes elements such as paved areas, landscape features such as seating and the like.
  • Soft works – includes elements such as, grassed areas, gardens garden beds, planted areas and plants.
  • Civil Works – includes structural elements such as retaining walls, stormwater management elements and infrastructure.

General Design Principles

The general design principle is to uphold, reinforce and extend the principles set out within the Macquarie University Master Plan, which identifies the following

  • Landscape Strategy;
    • Reinforce the concept of a Campus in the Park.
    • Create green gateways to the campus
    • Develop a distinctive formal landscape theme within the core
    • Integrate landscape and public domain.
    • Enhance the landscape definition of the streets
    • Focus on Maintenance and management.

University Master Plan

The Macquarie University Master Plan recognises the importance of the Public Domain and its ability to link the connect the various areas and buildings within the campus, structured around the creation of a robust landscape frame work that will provide strong and consistent base for the future growth and development of the university campus.

The Landscape design is to be undertaken in line with the principles set out within the Master Plan document.

Refer to the Macquarie University Campus Master Plan 2014 for further details of the public domain links and connections to the perimeter of the campus.

Click here to view the 2014 Campus Master Plan

The Master Plan sets out the following Principles:

  • For Access Primary Connectors;
    • Create clear lines of circulation through the academic core.
    • End pedestrian corridors on open spaces or major buildings.
    • Ensure that the spaces are well scaled and easily traversed.
    • Extend University high quality landscape through the network.
    • Develop new east-west pedestrian link along the Macquarie Drive axis (Macquarie Walk )
    • Develop a north-south pedestrian link adjacent to a new University Common (Sir Christopher Ondaatje Avenue)
    • Extend Wally's Walk to University Creek.
    • Achieve separation of vehicle service routes and loading areas from pedestrian areas.
    • Provide direct links to car parks, public transport and building entries.
    • Achieve gradients of less than 1:20 on major pathways. Where gradients are steeper or stairs are required, alternative pathways or lift access is to be considered.


  • Maximise safety and security and facilitate surveillance by maintaining sight lines and minimising opportunities for hiding.
  • Consider the safety and security of the grounds when locating planting to screen, expose or filter views.
  • Consider planting locations in relation to security lighting and after hours or night use areas.

Safe and Equal Access

  • Provide safe access to all key facilities and access for people of all abilities.
  • Provide equal access to all key facilities within the Campus grounds. Refer to the Building Regulations (BCA) and Access sections of this Design Guide.

Refer to Accessibility / Access for People with Disabilities section for further information and information on University policies.

Refer to the Macquarie University Accessibility map which identifies the accessible pathways through the campus that are to be maintained and enhanced with any new facilities on the campus.

Refer to the Macquarie University Security map

Bushfire management

Parts of the existing Macquarie University Campus are within identified and designated Bush Fire Prone area.

A Bushfire Assessment Report is to be prepared by an appropriately qualified consultant for any new buildings on the campus.

The design of the Landscaping is to follow the recommendations of the Bushfire Assessment report. In particular designed to:

  • Reduce fire intensity
  • Reduce fire spread
  • Assist in reducing wind velocities
  • Filter and deflect embers
  • Reduce impact of radiant heat

These can be achieved in a number of ways, by the materials selection, including non combustible elements and plants with high moisture content, or providing larger separation zones (asset protection zones) to reduce the potential for bush fire spread to buildings.

Refer to Bushfire Assessment Section of these Design Guidelines

Click here to view Planning for Bushfire Protection (NSW Rural Fire Service)

Construction of Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas is to comply with AS 3959-1999

Sustainable Landscape

Water Management

  • The landscape should be integrated with the stormwater design.
  • Incorporate Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) principles in consultation with a Civil Engineer as a part of the site wide drainage strategy.
  • The landscape design should minimise additional irrigation requirements.Reduce site run-off and peak flows of water downstream through on site detention measures and by minimising impervious areas where possible.
  • Work with the Civil Engineers to meet requirements for on-site detention and investigate opportunities to increase rain/stormwater percolation into the site to recharge water tables.
  • Utilise means such as planted swales and on site detention basins to capture, store and treat runoff/overland flow.
  • Where possible, plant swales and boggy areas with species that have high evapo-transpiration rates and are known for their filtering abilities. Co-ordinate with Civil/Stormwater Engineers to ensure appropriate flow rates are maintained.
  • Select and locate species to suit site conditions such as water-tolerant plants in boggy areas or drought tolerant plants on ridges or free-draining sandy soil.
  • Utilise porous paving and split kerbs where possible to reduce the speed and volume of overland flow and to assist in the re-charging of groundwater tables.
  • Collaborate with Hydraulic Engineers to identify non-potable sources of water for use in garden bed irrigation.
  • Collaborate with the engineers to identify the most appropriate locations for infrastructure, including water tanks, pumps and the like.

Landscape Hard Work


  • Refer to the University Master Plan for specific details of the paving to be included in the various zones.

  • All paving is to be designed to suit the location, ground surface and proposed use of the areas.
  • The main access ways through the campus are to be designed to provide an Accessible pathway between buildings, with surface finish, profiles, grades and junctions with adjacent surfaces to meet the requirements of the NCC and relevant Australian Standards including AS 1428.
  • Options for paving areas include:
    • Coloured concrete to reduce glare in large paved areas.
    • Plain concrete to walkways.
    • Broomed finish to provide a non-slip surface.
    • Different colours and patterns are to be considerd in large paved areas.
  • Recommended falls
    • Minimum gradient of concrete paving 1:50 or 2% (recommended to minimise ponding).
    • Max crossfall (flat path/walkway)1:50 or 2%
    • Max crossfall (sloping walkway/ramp) 1:100 or 1%
  • Exposed washed aggregate is not a preferred finish, but may be considered in small paved areas or paths.
  • Asphalt concrete (hot-mix bitumen, black top) while not generally recommended for pedestrian access in schools, may be suitable adjoining areas where it is installed.
  • Recommended falls:
    • Min. gradient required to prevent ponding 1:35 or 2.8%
    • Max. cross fall in parking areas 1:20 or 4%
  • Unit paving (interlocking concrete pavers) may be appropriate in areas with highly reactive soils.
  • Brick paving or other unit paving may be installed to an area up to 2.0 x 2.0 m around the base of trees in high use areas
  • Gravel (including decomposed granite paving) is not considered acceptable for reasons of safety, within main circulation routes.
  • Consider the use of permeable pavements such as bonded gravel to tree surrounds

Landscape Soft Works

  • Refer to the University Master Plan for specific details of the trees and vegetation to be included in the various zones.

Turf/Grass Area

  • Include turfed grass to areas of open ground and minor graded areas to encourage casual seating areas.
  • Consider the use of synthetic grass or mulched garden beds to areas where the conditions are unsuitable for turfing.
  • The Contractor or Turf Supplier is to provide Certification of grass type.
  • Commercial soil testing laboratories make it possible to specify precise sub-soil and soil treatments and to establish the most appropriate species selection for a particular site. Utilisation of this technology should improve the general standard of grassed areas in schools as dependence on artificial fertilising is reduced.
  • Suggested turf species selection:
Kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum)vigorous growth habit under most conditions but can also be a weedneeds strong control to prevent weed type characteristics.Suited to active areas
Couch (several species)requires suitable climate and soil conditions
It can also be a weed with fine pollens
Fine pollens can be a major source of allergens 
Buffalo (Soft Leaf Shademaster, Sir Walter, Palmetto, ST 85, ST 91, ST 26 Austine)shade tolerant requiring less mowing than Couch or Kikuyu  

Grading for Turf Areas

  • Maximum grade for residual open areas is 1:4 or 25% with a preferred grade of 1:8 / 12.5% or flatter (ie. walking grade to allow for informal use).
  • Gradient range for free play areas is 1:30 or 3.3% to 1:60 1.6% (note that where gradients are flatter than 1:40 or 2.5% sub-soil drainage should be considered for most soils).
  • Maximum gradient recommended for playing fields 1:60 or 1.6%, demands sub-soil drainage


Existing Trees and Vegetation.

  • Refer to the University Master Plan for specific details of the existing trees and vegetation to be included in the various zones.

Below are the general Tree and vegetation selection principles.

  • Integrate existing established vegetation into the landscape design as a means to enhance the visual character and amenity of the campus.
  • As much as practical, retain existing trees and habitat, for inclusion in the landscape
  • Retain and protect existing trees. They are landmarks and often provide gathering points within the campus.
  • Avoid disturbance to and construction within the root zone of existing retained trees. The root zone generally extends beyond the drip line of the crown. Disturbance to the root system can be caused by compaction due to stockpiling materials, parking of vehicles, cutting or exposure of roots and changes in ground level, including placement of fill in excess of 100mm. Refer to AS 4970-2009 Protection of Trees on Development Sites.
  • When work in the vicinity of an existing tree cannot be avoided, an arborist is to be engaged to provide expert advice on how to best manage the tree (throughout the construction and in the long term), to ensure long-term tree health and viability, as well as occupant safety. This includes an assessment of possible changes to their environment (soil levels, water table and root disturbance). Reports produced by the Arborist must be provided to the contractor and be kept on site throughout the construction as a reference document.
  • Implement a regular program of tree management and maintenance practices based on the advice of the Arborist.
  • Where disturbance to the root zone cannot be avoided altogether, seek advice from the Arborist as to the extent of work and processes that can be undertaken within the Structural Root Zone.
  • As a guide the Structural Root Zone can be measured as (SRZ = 5 x DBH (Diameter of trunk at Breast Height)).
  • Avoid earthworks within the Tree Protection Zone (TPZ = 10 x DBH) surrounding retained trees, unless recommended otherwise by the site arborist.

New Trees and Vegetation

Refer to the University Master Plan for specific details of the trees and vegetation to be included in the various zones.

  • Use advanced specimens selectively for aesthetics and early effect. This will need to be balanced with budgets and potential longer establishment periods.
  • Use smaller stock in areas that do not require an instant landscape. Young, small plants generally establish quickly and are more likely to thrive. They more readily adapt to local conditions and grow quickly to result in a healthy, vigorous landscape.
  • Give preference to endemic (locally native) species or use other native or exotic species that suit the local climatic and rainfall conditions, as well as the specific site conditions.
  • Include plants that stimulate the sense of touch through the selection of plants with varying leaf forms, bark and flower texture.
  • Include plants and combinations of plants that stimulate sight through contrasting colours.

Landscape Fixtures

Refer to the University Master Plan for specific details of the fixtures to be included in the various zones, including, seating, covered areas and shelters landscape features edge markers etc.