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The Australian National University
Facilities and Services Division
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Interim Master Plan for

The Australian National University June 1997


1. Introduction
2. Processes/Procedures/Linkages
3. Objectives
4. Principles
5. General Policies
6. University Avenue and Baldessin Square Policies
7. Acton Ridge Axis Policies
8. Sullivans Creek Policies
9. Gateways and Edges Policies



The Australian National University Master Plan, a document to be jointly prepared and agreed by The Australian National University (ANU) and the National Capital Authority (NCA) will, when finalised, be a statutory document which will provide the necessary framework to guide the progressive development of the ANU over time. It will allow flexibility for individual expression of the different elements yet embrace the need to reinforce and enhance the image of the campus.

The Interim ANU Master Plan, while not having the statutory authority of the yet to be completed Master Plan, will nevertheless provide guidance in the physical development of the Acton campus. By defining planning policies agreed to by both the ANU and the NCA, it will assist in the process of approvals by the NCA for new works.



Generally, applications for works approval for any significant new work, substantial extension or redevelopment within the University will be accompanied by a detailed development context plan exhibiting consistency with the objectives, principles and policies of the Interim Master Plan (IMP).

The University will prepare documentation to be agreed by NCA to assist the achievement of the vision contained in the IMP. This documentation will be taken into consideration when assessing applications for works approval and will include campus wide strategies for:

  • detailed precinct planning guides;
  • a strategic landscape strategy;
  • a cultural heritage building and landscape strategy;
  • an environmental management plan;
  • traffic management and parking guidelines and policies;
  • handling and movement of dangerous and hazardous materials;
  • and any other matter considered important for the achievement of national significance.
These documents can be added to or revised at any time without the need for an amendment to the National Capital Plan, provided there is NCA agreement to the concepts contained within them and they are generally in accord with the IMP.

Landscape and siteworks plans will accompany applications for works approval. All development is to conform to the relevant Australian Standards and ACT environmental legislation.



The general objectives of the IMP are statements which aim to guide the ANU in the creation of an identifiable image with an efficient physical structure and a good environment.

The general objectives are:

  • to promote the site’s national significance through quality of design
  • to develop a deliberate campus image through achieving cohesiveness of building and landscape design and presentation;
  • to emphasise the physical elements of the University as an integral part of ensuring the continued importance of the University’s image in the broader context of the National Capital; and
  • to promote and implement the Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) Principles.


To achieve the objectives, the following principles will apply:


Present a strong, physical setting within a landscape environment through the placement of buildings to define edges of important structural spaces to assist the identification of the University as a centre of academic excellence, and strengthen its importance in the Central National Area and the National Capital. This will be achieved by ensuring planning and design reinforce a unified image by the quality of the edges, gateways, major structural spaces, path systems, landmarks and its environmental management;
Create an attractive and safe setting for all the operations of the University. Encourage innovative planning, building and landscape design. Enhance environmental quality through promotion of the national ecologically sustainable development concepts;
Cultural Heritage:
Conserve and enhance important natural and man-made features on the site and integrate new development sensitively within them;
Ensure an efficient land use structure integrated with a circulation system so that the campus population, visitors and service vehicles can move safely about the campus, with priority given to pedestrians, and with public transport access;
Social and Community:
Provide appropriate locations for cultural, recreational, leisure and community support activities to meet the needs of the present and future campus population and, where appropriate, the wider Canberra community;
Provide strong linkages, both physical and visual, to Civic, CSIRO, Black Mountain and to Acton Peninsula; and encourage a greater integration with metropolitan public transport links;
Ensure the University is able to respond to changing circumstances; and
Ensure the IMP is able to be implemented incrementally, with minimum disruption to existing academic programs and buildings, and at an acceptable cost.


To assist in the implementation of the IMP the following policies covering either the campus as a whole or large areas of it, will apply:

  • Ensure opportunities are taken for orienting new buildings to address existing or new axes or open spaces in order to reinforce campus image and its underlying structural elements.Ensure such development creates usable areas, is capable of developing a public address, and good connections with the University’s core activities and adjacent precincts;
  • Locate activities so as to minimise walking distances for students and staff by concentrating high usage facilities such as lecture theatres and libraries around major venues and along main pedestrian paths providing safe access by day and night;
  • Reduce vehicle movement on campus to a minimum consistent with functional requirements by discouraging through traffic and reducing the speed of vehicles;
  • Provide for appropriate access to all parts of campus for those with disabilities (including vehicle access if necessary);
  • Locate surface parking and purpose-built car parking structures in convenient locations on main paths and screened from public view;
  • Ensure development makes efficient use of land and infrastructure; where thermal efficiency is maximised and the whole of life energy and maintenance costs are minimised;
  • Conserve, maintain and enhance the integrity of heritage buildings and landscapes and their settings and ensure their unique values are taken into account when adding new buildings. Redevelopment within the Acton precinct should not compromise the heritage values of that area;
  • Ensure a generally consistent building height not exceeding 3 to 4 storeys based on mature tree height, unless it can be shown that the extra height will not significantly interfere with the park-like perspective, and which preserves the park-like quality of the campus, significant landscape elements and existing vistas;
  • Ensure general consistency of architectural style, materials, colours and landscaping within precincts, to assist in user orientation and so strengthen the campus image;
  • Ensure buildings or other features are lit commensurate with their importance and aim to create emphasis and hierarchy both within, and at the edges of, the campus, with an absolute minimum night sky illumination;
  • Maintain and enhance the environmental quality of the campus, and promote the concept of ecologically sustainable development consistent with the Commonwealth’s National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development demonstrated through an environmental management plan;
  • Introduce a uniform set of landscape furniture for items including seats, bins, signage, barriers and lighting; and
  • Develop a uniform paved surface treatment for paths and activity areas to reinforce pedestrian movement and right-of-way.


University Avenue and its environs are a powerful ordering element and possibly the strongest formal connection between the campus and the city. It is part of the Municipal Axis devised by Griffin. In conjunction with Baldessin Square, it will form the major gateway to the University from Civic. The future Baldessin Square will centre on the southern end of the Childers Street axis and provide frontage to the important cultural facilities of the School of Music and the Institute of the Arts.

The policies that apply to University Avenue are as follows:

  • Emphasise University Avenue axis to impart strong formality and a sense of continuity and integration of its many elements by the development and enhancement of its linear landscape planting and paving, and by the integration of buildings and their relationship to the Avenue, all in accord with an agreed plan of management;
  • Light intensity should be increased along University Avenue axis. Ensure main paths are lit to an acceptable standard at night;
  • Provide orientation features at appropriate locations along the axis;
  • Develop a ceremonial entry to the campus at the eastern end of the axis at its interface with the City and maintain building enclosure to the axis at its western end;
  • University Avenue is to be a minimum of 75 metres wide between building faces;
  • Building heights, materials and finishes are to conform to General Policies (Section 5);
  • Develop a central pedestrian path along its entire length with generally 4 rows of formally planted trees, where possible to improve visual impact, identity and image along the axis;
  • Continue 2 rows of trees and the pedestrian path through the major activity focus of Union Court;
  • Restrict vehicular access to University Avenue to necessary service vehicles only, with no through traffic; and
  • Develop Union Court as the main activity focus for the undergraduate part of the campus with physical changes of level and ‘eddy’ spaces allowing for outdoor activities to reinforce campus image.
The policies that will apply to Baldessin Square are as follows:
  • Develop Baldessin Square as a focus and unifying feature for the cultural precinct to give a sense of arrival and image, to encourage greater student use and strengthen pedestrian linkages between the Square and other parts of the campus;
  • Reinforce landscape planting to Childers Street to frame and strengthen the axis to the Institute of the Arts. The minimum planting should be 2 rows with a path on either side of Childers Street;
  • Ensure building and landscape opportunities reinforce Baldessin Square and the connections to other parts of the campus;
  • Building heights and materials and finishes are to conform to General Policies (Section 5);
  • Develop consistent pavement and landscape treatment for Baldessin Square which encourages pedestrian right-of-way; and
  • Vehicular access to the Square is to be discouraged except to the School of Music. Where possible, ensure service vehicles use Ellery Crescent.


The Acton Ridge axis is a new axis designed to ‘link’ the centre of the campus at Sullivans Creek with the Acton Cottages to reinforce the Cardinal (Research Schools) grid. It will provide settings for major new building opportunities between the Acton Cottages and Sullivans Creek which will help to define the edges of the axis.

The policies that apply to the Acton Ridge axis are as follows:

  • Retain the Acton Ridge canopy of remnant natural eucalypt woodland wherever possible, along with remnant plantings of the Acton Cottages to assist the integration of the University with the landscape character of Black Mountain;
  • Light intensity should be increased along the Acton Ridge axis. Ensure main paths are lit to an acceptable standard at night; and
  • Building heights, materials and finishes are to conform with General Policies (Section 5).


The policies that apply to Sullivans Creek are as follows:

  • Ensure Sullivan’s Creek remains a powerful orientation element of the campus;
  • Provide a strong north/south pedestrian/cycle link through the campus along Sullivans Creek and North Road, linking into the City and Lake Burley Griffin pedestrian and cycle network;
  • The Sullivan’s Creek axis is variable in width to encompass the creek, its banks, the recreation spaces and other open space uses. It is to be framed in appropriate locations with building facades and main paths to address the open space formally. Service yards, surface parking, storage areas and other compounds should be located elsewhere or be screened from public view;
  • Protect and strengthen the stormwater management and recreation roles of Sullivans Creek axis consistent with the functional and security requirements of campus users;
  • Emphasise it as an open space spine be developing landscape plantings along the edges to the axis which reflect a part formal and part informal character; and
  • Provide opportunities for marking the intersection with other major structural spaces of University Avenue and Acton Ridge through the placement of works of art or other suitable monuments, or in the case of the Acton Ridge axis, a distinctive terminus on the western side of the creek, opposite South Oval.


The policies that apply to the Gateways and Edges of the University are as follows:

  • Provide clearly recognisable gateways and where necessary link gateways to the internal road network. Gateways are to be clearly legible to the campus population and visitors, well signposted and lit appropriately;
  • Reinforce the green edge to the campus where appropriate, with the current practice of planting native eucalypt species towards the periphery of the campus and ensure the retention of the eucalypt woodland and shelter belt on the north, south and western edges to extend the character of Black Mountain into the campus;
  • Ensure Blocks 1, Sections 65 and 72 remain free of roads, parking, buildings and any other structures, and are landscaped;
  • Ensure the development of a more urban character along the eastern edge with the city by using opportunities for street level activities, landmark buildings and sculptures in conjunction with gateways and coordinate planning of this area with the ACT Government; and
  • Provide University entrance and information signage in appropriate locations.
5 June 1997