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Major landscaping project will enhance the Dunedin campus

Friday 27 March 2015 9:48am

landscape plans town square image
An artist's impression of the University's major landscaping plans set to get underway in April, which include a "town square" outside the Staff Club.

From early April, staff will start to see works underway as part of a landscaping project to give the grounds of the Dunedin campus a major facelift.

But the benefits are promising to be very much worthwhile for both staff and students alike, with new paving, outdoor seats, trees, LED lighting, signage and improved shelter within a large area located between the northern end of the Richardson Building, and the intersection of Castle and Dundas Streets.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says the intention is to vastly improve access to known sunny, sheltered sitting areas for staff, students and visitors; to replace paving that has come to the end of its life with safer materials; and to create new outdoor sitting, walking and recreational areas to improve the visual linking between spaces on the campus.

St David landscaping plans image small
The area outside the St David cafe is the first in line for a facelift.

The project will be underway from early next month, beginning with work on the St David Café courtyard. The overall project is to include the replacement of old drainage with new drains in parts of the central campus, on behalf of the Dunedin City Council. Also, major works completed last year when the West bank of the Leith outside the Clocktower was lowered for flood protection purposes had resulted in a substantial visual change requiring further improvements.

Professor Hayne believes the enhancements are necessary and important, and they will further benefit what is already a stunning campus environment.

"We want to both maintain and enhance our well-known advantage as one of the world’s most beautiful campuses in which to work and study."

“We want to both maintain and enhance our well-known advantage as one of the world’s most beautiful campuses in which to work and study.

“This is an exciting and innovative project that further capitalises on the potential here for greater outdoor utilisation of our beautiful, green areas, and spaces such as the north end of the Richardson building, where people have traditionally liked to sit because it is so sheltered and sunny.

“We will be using quality materials, timbers, and real blue-stone that blends in with our heritage buildings. We want this development to stand the test of time.”

Professor Hayne is mindful that this is a major task, and that there will be disruption to staff and students as work progresses. Information signs will be erected, and work will progress with as few interruptions and as little noise as possible.

The University aims to have the project completed by the end of January 2016.

Highlights of the landscaping project include:

• The creation of an enclosed courtyard allowing for a more well-defined and better sheltered seating area outside St David café, with low bluestone walls.

• A new paved ‘town square’ outside the Staff Club in the area known as the Castle Walk. This will involve the relocation of some memorial trees, and the removal of others that arborists have said have come to the end of their natural life. An artwork (to be commissioned) will feature in the middle of this new square, as well as seating.

• A new entranceway and Oamaru stone University sign at the entrance to the University from Castle Street, near the Centre for Innovation, and also a new sign on top of blue-stone and caste iron fencing at the entrance to Castle Street from Dundas Street.

• Castle Street in the section housing Selwyn and the new University Childcare Centre, Te Pā, will be re-paved, with wider footpaths, and bike racks. The area will become more bike-friendly, with adjustments to parking spaces, and more trees. The street will be raised to be level with the footpath, with more trees added.

• The newly created concrete steps on the new embankment leading down to the Leith Stream opposite the Clocktower will have railings, and improved safety adjustments, while matured specimen trees will be added to increase shade and improve visual values.

• The tiled walkway over the Union St bridge will be re-paved in high-quality durable pavers, and there will be seismic strengthening underneath the bridge.

• Further extensive new landscaping with trees, seating and paving, as well as wider walkways and steps, will be installed in the area that runs east of the Union Street bridge, up past the Archway Lecture theatres, and around to the front of Allen Hall where Theatre Studies is housed.

• A community garden with fruit trees will be cultivated between the villas at the University end of Castle Street; and also rain gardens planted with native grasses added throughout the newly-developed area.

• In total, there will be about 15,000 square metres of paving replaced or re-laid.

• No changes are planned for the grass bank and historic mature trees directly in front of the Clocktower.

Staff and students will receive regular updates as work patterns change via the Bulletin Board.