Campus Management

History of campus planning at UWA

Further information

Campus facts and history

building pond in front of winthrop hall

Planning has been a key feature of the growth and development of The University of Western Australia since its establishment in 1911 and its move to the 51 hectare Crawley site in 1929.

The University has benefitted from the foresight of several influential architects who, over several decades, maintained the University’s unique relationship with the Matilda Bay foreshore and managed a balance between the retention of green space and the need for buildings to service a growing student and staff population. It is also notable that car-parking on campus has been deliberately kept to a minimum.

Campus plans

  • 1915: Harold Desbrowe-Annear's original competition winning entry took a beaux-arts approach, with just a few buildings placed geometrically in a landscape setting rather than creating spaces defined by buildings.
  • 1927: Leslie Wilkinson prepared what is regarded as the first formative plan, which toned down the 1915 geometry and opted for simple, strong axes and a courtyard approach to the built form.
  • 1954: Gordon Stephenson changed the campus planning rationale considerably, with the increased demand for additional accommodation, by placing future buildings towards Matilda Bay and diminishing the strong axial features of previous plans. However, Stephenson retained the cloistered courtyard approach
  • 1959: James Oval was relocated by Paddy Clare to the west of the campus to provide, along with Riley Oval, a ‘green’ interface to Hackett Drive and Matilda Bay that would enable buildings to be consolidated in the eastern and centre portions of the campus. 
  • 1962: Gordon Stephenson’s plan restored James Oval as a ‘green’ centrepiece to the campus, but sacrificed Riley Oval in the face of a desire for more building floorspace. This plan flagged the internal ring road along the northern and eastern edges of the campus.
  • 1966: Gordon Stephenson revised his original plan and indicated a denser pattern of buildings.
  • 1975: Arthur Bunbury’s plan included the aim of capping car-parking to exceed 10 per cent of the campus site area. The Oak Lawn was reinstated and Riley Oval retained to a greater extent.
  • 1990: Gus Ferguson’s plan placed more emphasis on the retention of the landscape spaces with Riley Oval and Oak Lawn given greater prominence, Prescott Court given a stronger relationship to the river, and a green reserve identified at the southern extremity of the campus. The 1990 plan also provided a more coherent structure to the southern end of the campus following the connection of Hackett Drive to Princess Road, and started to identify buildings and opportunities beyond the campus boundary.
  • 2000: Gus Ferguson recognised that if the University was to continue to expand, and maintain the character of ‘buildings in a landscape setting’ then expansion paths beyond the campus would be needed. The State Government introduced a cap of 4250 parking bays to flag an end to the University being perceived as a predominantly ‘drive-to’ destination like a shopping centre.