Design Guidelines
Macquarie University Property

Landscape Design


The Landscape Design discipline includes all the elements surrounding the buildings and facilities as well as the connecting areas between the various buildings on Campus. Elements to be considered in the Landscape design include the following:

  • Hard Works – includes paved areas and landscape features such as seating, water features, shade structures, outdoor furniture.
  • Soft works – includes grassed areas, garden beds, planted areas and planting generally.

General Design Principles

The general design principle is to uphold, reinforce and extend the landscaping principles set out within the Macquarie University Master Plan, which includes the following Landscape strategy:

  • Reinforce the concept of a Campus in the Park.
  • Create green gateways to the Macquarie University Campus
  • Develop a distinctive formal landscape theme within the core
  • Integrate the 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 connect the various areas and buildings within the campus, structured around the creation of a robust landscape frame work that will provide a 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 and Design Excellence Strategy and Urban Design Guideline documents.

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.

The Master Plan sets out the following principles:

  • 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.

Design Excellence Strategy and Urban Design Guideline

Given the existing planning regime applying to the University, the University campus has been excluded from Part 4.5 of the City of Ryde Development Control Plan 2014. These urban design guidelines now provide the ‘controls’ and detailed design measures against which future development on the campus will be assessed, and are to be considered instead of Council’s Development Control Plan (DCP) controls.

The Urban Design Guidelines are not prescriptive and variations are possible where appropriate justification is provide in the form of a departures schedule.

The Urban Design Guidelines considers each of the precincts on the Campus as described in the Concept Plan, namely:

  • Precinct A – Academic Core
  • Precinct B – North West Precinct
  • Precinct C – University Open Space and Playing Fields
  • Precinct D – Macquarie University Health and Research Precinct
  • Precinct E – Station South
  • Precinct F – Epping Road West
  • Precinct G – Epping Road Precinct Expansion
  • Precinct H – Talavera Road North.

Refer to the Design Excellence Strategy and Urban Design Guideline for more information.

Map: Macquarie University Precincts (North Ryde Campus)


Maximise safety and security and facilitate surveillance by maintaining sight lines and minimising opportunities for hiding and consider the following:

  • The safety and security of the grounds when locating planting to screen, expose or filter views
  • Planting locations in relation to security lighting and after hours or night use areas.

Safe and Equal Access

Key design principles for safe and equal access are to:

  • 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.


For further information refer to Accessibility / Access for People with Disabilities section in these Guidelines.

Bushfire Management

Parts of the existing Macquarie University Campus are within an 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.

The design of the landscaping should seek 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.

The construction of Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas is to comply with AS 3959-1999.


Sustainable Landscape

Water Management

The effective management of water needs to be considered in landscape design so that following periods of rainfall, this water can be maximised on the Campus.  Key principles of landscape design include:

  • The landscape should be integrated with the stormwater design
  • The incorporation of 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 irrigation requirements
  • Reduce site run-off and peak flows of water downstream through on-site detention measures and by minimising impervious areas where possible
  • Investigate opportunities for on-site detention and rain water reuse for irrigation.
Planting and pavements

To maximise the retention of water, utilise means such as planted swales and on-site detention basins to capture, store and treat runoff and overland flow. Where possible, plant swales and boggy areas with species that have high evapo- transpiration rates and are known for their filtering abilities.

It is important to coordinate with civil and stormwater engineers to ensure appropriate flow rates are maintained and 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.

An other measure to maximise the retantion of water inclused the application of 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.

Landscape Hard Work


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 National Construction Code (NCC) and relevant Australian Standards including AS 1428.

The options for paving include:

  • Coloured concrete to reduce glare in large paved areas.
  • Plain concrete to walkways
  • A broomed finish to provide a non-slip surface
  • Different colors and patterns are to be considered in large paved areas.
  • All paving is to be designed to suit the location, ground surface and proposed use of the areas.

The recommended falls are:

  • Minimum gradient of concrete paving – 1:50 or 2% (recommended to minimise ponding).
  • Maximum cross fall (flat path/walkway) – 1:50 or 2%
  • Maximum cross fall (sloping walkway/ramp) – 1:100 or 1%.

An exposed washed aggregate is not a preferred finish, however may be considered in small paved areas or paths.

Asphalt concrete

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.

The recommended falls are:

  • Minimum gradient required to prevent ponding – 1:35 or 2.8%
  • Maximum cross fall in parking areas 1:20 or 4%.

The application of unit paving (interlocking concrete pavers) may be appropriate in areas with highly reactive soils and 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.


The Campus Master Plan provides specific details of the paving to be included in the various zones.

Landscape Soft Works

Turf/Grass Area

It is recommended to include turfed grass to areas of open ground and minor graded areas to encourage casual seating areas. Whilst it is also recommended to consider the use of synthetic grass or mulched garden beds to areas where the conditions are unsuitable for turfing.

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 on Campus as dependence on artificial fertilising is reduced.

The suggested turf selection species on Campus are noted in the table below

Table: Suggested Turf Species Selection
TypeCharacteristicsTo noteSuitability
Kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum)Vigorous growth habit under most conditions but can also be a weed.

Needs strong control to prevent weed type characteristics.
Needs 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 pollen's and can be a a major source of allergens.

Fine pollen's can be a major source of allergens. 
Buffalo (Soft Leaf Shade-master, Sir Walter, Palmetto, ST 85, ST 91, ST 26 Austine)shade tolerant requiring less mowing than Couch or Kikuyu.  

Grading for Turf Areas

The recommended grading for turf areas is:

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


The Campus Master Plan provides specific details of the trees and vegetation to be included in the various zones.


Existing Trees and Vegetation

The general tree and vegetation selection principles seek to 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 as they are landmarks and often provide gathering points within the campus.

To 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 100 millimeters  (refer to AS 4970-2009, Protection of Trees on Development Sites).

If  working 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). This is to ensure long-term tree health and viability, as well as occupant safety.

When engaging the arborist, the arborist is expected to provide 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.

To retain trees, a regular program of tree management and maintenance practices based on the advice of the arborist should be implemented, whilst, 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 (SRZ).

As a guide the structural root zone can be measured as:

  • SRZ = 5 x DBH (diameter of trunk at breast height).

It is recommended to avoid earthworks within the tree protection zone (TPZ = 10 x DBH) surrounding retained trees, unless recommended otherwise by the site arborist.


The Campus Master Plan provides specific details of the existing trees and vegetation to be included in the various zones.

Other resources include:

New Trees and Vegetation

When new trees and vegetation are planted on Campus, use advanced specimens selectively for aesthetics and early effect. This will need to be balanced with budgets and potential longer establishment periods.

It is suggested that smaller stock is used 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.

It is suggested to 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.

To enhance the natural environment, include plants and combinations that stimulate sight through contrasting colours.


The Campus Master Plan provides specific details of the new trees and vegetation to be included in the various zones.

Landscape Fixtures

Refer to the Campus 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.