Planning university campuses in the 21st century is an intensive exercise in innovation and Curtin University’s Greater Curtin Plan, which attracted the largest ever Smart Cities grant from federal government, is a high-definition example.
Located in Perth’s middle suburbia, Curtin aims to serve not only its students, but the region in general, by acting as a diverse community hub that brings life to its surrounds and fosters synergies between business and academia.
Professor Peter Newman is Distinguished Professor of Sustainability at Curtin, as well as a former board member of Infrastructure Australia and a lead author on the IPCC, the UN climate change group.
Peter led the innovation and sustainability research behind the Greater Curtin Plan – research which earned the initiative an $8million grant.
In advance of his address at the University Masterplans Summit, he spoke to us about the thinking behind the Curtin plan and what he believes makes it a success.
“Universities are now part of the knowledge economy and that is the fastest growing aspect of the whole economy”, says Peter.
“The plan leverages this power and seeks to transform the campus’s surrounding region, stimulate urbanism and provide a well-connected ecosystem that meets the growing expectations of millennials”.
“It is a hub in which staff, students, industry, entrepreneurs, researchers and the wider community can easily meet and interact. We are finding that this is what the students of today look for in a university. They want to study in an urban, interconnected environment that inspires them, stimulates their creativity and offers local vocational opportunities”.
Professor Newman, who is an expert in sustainability, believes that thanks to the use of smart solar energy networks and the emphasis on pedestrian access to key infrastructure assets, a new university campus can act as a demonstration site for how wider cities should be planned.
“Innovation in urban development today has to show how it can not only make economies better but can help save the planet”, he says.
Reflecting on his experience at the University as well as his work with Infrastructure Australia and IPCC, Professor Newman will give further details on the innovative features of the plan and how they help fulfil its wider vision.