Griffith University

Commercial & Industrial


Southport, Gold Coast, Queensland


Griffith University


Cox Architecture

The complexity of the campus site and network of spaces called for a comprehensive site investigation which informed a clear landscape design strategy and methodology. The methodology commenced by analysing the existing built form and vegetation across the site establishing how features could be integrated into the future design. The proposed walkway structures, pavilions, and pathway connections were then overlaid onto the existing landscape fabric to define the varied landscape framework character throughout. This landscape character transitioned from ornamental and highly structured landscape that blended through a semiĀ­-natural feel, until ultimately transitioning into a completely natural state that connected into the contextual bushland that surrounds the campus.

The next stage of the methodology identified the existing and potential microclimatic pockets across the project which were intricate and varied due to the network of built form and covered walkways. The observations differentiated the spaces in terms of divergent conditions that included sunny and shady, exposed and protected and wet and dry. Detailed coordination of consolidated service corridors was critical in ensuring appropriate spaces were allocated for planting zones without compromising on the necessary infrastructure. Drainage and WSUD principles were carefully integrated into the design mitigating the high concentration of impervious surfaces and covered roof structures. Ephemeral drainage channels, roof drainage down pipes into small stormwater gardens, and natural infiltration zones, all contributed to slowing the passage of stormwater from the site while passively irrigating the adjoining landscape.

Trees were singled out, both existing and proposed, because of their potential positive impact on the final outcomes of the landscape strategy. They were considered especially important for the provision of shade and landscape structure, but could also have substantial impacts on infrastructure if not correctly selected and positioned. The landscape planting structure was also intertwined into the methodology for consideration. Some key aspects of the structure to be considered were layered planting, shade planting, screen planting and vertical planting and optimising their placement.

Due to the location of the campus and its connection to its natural context it was also prudent to investigate the integration of habitat creation through native flowering plants, nesting boxes for fauna and ephemeral drainage areas for amphibious fauna.

Finally, the success of any landscape project is often underpinned by the ongoing maintenance, especially in regards to irrigation. The methodology looked into an irrigation system that adapted to the needs and conditions of the site and resulted in a hybrid system that would be a combination of traditional methods including drip and above ground sprinklers with passive irrigation which utilised the rainwater harvested on site.

The depth and precision of this methodology resulted in a series of clear concise overlays that could be applied across the site which informed the landscape design to be implemented. The methodology was also a key component of the review process with the client and other consultants as they could very clearly see the process behind the design and could use similar approaches as the design shifted and evolved through the construction phase.

Catherine Pickering lectures in botany at the Griffith University Gold Coast campus while also serving as a landscape advisor for the campus. Her insight into the planting palettes was invaluable along with advice that was coordinated with the campus landscape maintenance team. Catherine often uses some of the existing plant material as part of her teaching methods and championed the idea of creating an outdoor classroom. Plants such as the Lemon scented myrtle, macadamias, lily pillys and Davidson’s plums were included as potential flavouring sources for a cafe which was also included as part of the development works.

Extensive coordination and review was undertaken with the campus landscape maintenance team to ensure the appropriateness of the plant material. A generous amount of local knowledge was collected to prevent the selection of plant material known to be unsuccessful, that had already been tested on the site. The plant material was also sized slightly smaller from the nurseries at the advice of these local experts to ensure a greater success rate and has resulted in much healthier growth and establishment of plant material.

The combination of a thoroughly investigated methodology and the acquisition and integration of local expertise and knowledge has resulted in a very fluid and efficient design process which has increased the quality and sustainability of the finished works and also improved the overall client satisfaction at the conclusion of the works.