Work begins on major university scheme in Queensland

3 April 2019
  • Cox Architecture



New plaza to act as catalyst for future development

Tropical planting and curvaceous shade canopies will take centre stage in a major project underway at James Cook University’s Douglas campus in Townsville, Queensland. Designed by Cox Architecture, with landscape architecture by RPS, the new Central Plaza will create an academic, social and entertainment hub at the heart of the university and play a key role in Discovery Rise, an urban development programme set to radically transform the campus. 

At the ground-breaking ceremony, Queensland planning minister Cameron Dick stated: “Central Plaza is also part of a much bigger picture, which will see JCU Douglas transitioning from a conventional institutional setting into a university town within the city of Townsville. Through Discovery Rise, JCU is creating an urban community with a series of residential villages and non-academic facilities built around the Douglas campus and Townsville Hospital.”

Central Plaza is a series of spaces for small and large gatherings, surrounding a sheltering canopy which provides a canvas for integrated artwork. The dramatic form of the canopy is complemented by the nearby creek, a large event lawn, and an intertwined water feature. A series of connecting pathways respond to the requirements of future buildings outlined in the overall master plan, also created by Cox Architecture alongside RPS and local firm, Counterpoint. 

The overall vision for Discovery Rise includes student accommodation, care facilities, retirement living and short-stay accommodation. The document also sets out plans for a Health Plaza between the Townsville Hospital and the university. 

James Cook University acting vice chancellor, Chris Cocklin, described the plaza as the focal point for the growth of the university, saying: “Although Discovery Rise is a long-term project, spanning 10 to 20 years, Central Plaza provides an essential connection between its different elements. It’s the catalyst that enables the next stage of development, which will support jobs and bring new and sustained economic activity to the university.”

Lucy Nordberg
TenderStream Head of Research

This competition was first published by TenderStream on 02.04.2015 here

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