UQ Student Central

Nature meets nurture in calming outdoor-indoor environments where The University of Queensland in Australia is reinventing the delivery of student support services on campus. 

Realised through a close working partnership with The University of Queensland (UQ) and our multi-disciplinary design team, the UQ Student Central extends a warm welcome to students and helps dismantle the physical barriers to seeking help. Our collection of outdoor rooms, collaborative support spaces, and private focus areas create accessible and lively student-centred places that are inviting, inclusive and calming. Combining subtropical landscapes, generous garden gathering areas and welcoming interiors, these are spaces where students immediately feel at ease. 

As both a refuge for students and an attractive pathway into the UQ St Lucia campus, the landscape and urban design of Student Central visually and physically connects the counselling, learning and staff areas located in the refurbished rooms of three adjoining buildings – the Prentice Building, Physics Annexe and Staff House.

UQ Student Central normalises student support by physically co-locating key services and creating a highly visible and accessible first-stop-shop’. From delivering more efficient and easy to access services to hosting seasonal events and ceremonies, Student Central supports the unfiltered and diverse spectrum of university life.

At the Australian Institute of Architects’ 2023 Queensland State Awards, UQ Student Central was also honoured with an Interior Architecture Commendation and the Honorary Commendation for Social Inclusion.


The University of Queensland


Yuggera and Turrbal Country
Brisbane, Australia





Design team

Lucy O’Driscoll, Liam Short, Keith Hayes, Tarek Barclay, Gabriella Avenia, Tanne Marais, Marnie Reid, Jaclyn Sun, Mike Thomas


Scott Burrows (Landscape), David Chatfield (Interiors)

The project affords a relaxed fit-for-purpose setting while contributing to sustainable social, environmental and economic outcomes that enhance the quality of life for students.”

Jury citation on UQ Student Central’s 2022 AILA Landscape Architecture Award for Health and Education

Moving so many spaces and services outside is a game-changer. It normalises the support services and physically brings them outside to the students.”

Lucy O’Driscoll — Principal

The sheltered entry plaza establishes the setting for a relaxed, student-friendly atmosphere. Lush, mature planting brings shade while cool sandstone terraces and small gathering nooks invite students to linger longer. There is a civic quality that balances robust materials with a sense of openness and connection that is in step with the never turn a student away” philosophy of the services on offer. 

Inside, hardwearing materials like timbers, terrazzo and finger mosaic tiles emphasise contemporary comfort and visual quiet. Fabric-lined booths, leather-clad window seats and scattered planting layer a domestic sensibility and deepen the immersive calm. The quality of finishes and the sophisticated composition of rooms and spaces brings dignity to the services and all who seek them. 

We wanted UQ Student Central to be a place where students would choose to go and spend time.”

— Principal Lucy O’Driscoll

UQ Student Central demonstrates the value of adaptive reuse of existing buildings to repair and reimagine campus environments and dramatically improve the quality of the campus experience.

By interrogating the brief, Hassell demonstrated the value of moving a significant portion of services to outdoor spaces. This resulted in a flexible outdoor plaza that can expand and contract according to the academic calendar, and which ultimately consumes minimal energy by virtue of daylit spaces and passive cooling. 

The project champions the role of landscape and the power of open spaces to establish cool, calm and connected environments in subtropical climates. 

Our indoor and outdoor spaces created for UQ Student Central positively impact the wellbeing of students through both the experience and services they offer.

2022 AILA Queensland Awards: Landscape Architecture Award for Health and Education

2023 AIA Queensland Awards: Interior Architecture Commendation 

2023 AIA Queensland Awards: Honorary Commendation for Social Inclusion

Student Central is a bright and welcoming space that normalises its student welfare and counselling services. Frameless glazed doors provide seamless connection between the outdoor terrace and the quieter support spaces within.

Sandstone and timber reflect the familiar University of Queensland surroundings while the sumptuous addition of gold is both eye-catching and celebratory. The flowing interior provides cleverly layered zones of calm and privacy, conceived as rooms within a room’, supporting psychological wellbeing as well as respecting cultural preferences.

This project upholds a new model of care and develops a strong visual brand for Student Services at UQ.”

— AIA Queensland State Awards Jury

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