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Case Study

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UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA

A blueprint for the future

Case Study
10:57:34 26 August 2021

When FreeState was commissioned to design its experience masterplan, the University of Western Australia was in the middle of the delivery of the most significant of changes since its inception, one born of the fact that – despite its reputation, its results, and its beautiful campus – over a third of UWA’s students reported feeling unengaged and unwelcome. The key, it recognised, to reversing this sense of disengagement was to stitch together a student-focussed and university-enabled activity-led plan for overhauling the campus’s programme, use of Estate, and identity.

In response, we created a vision for a vibrant and free-flowing campus. Recommending that the campus of the future is part agora part innovation cluster, the Marketplace of Ideas experience vision spearheaded an activation plan – which included a set of guidelines, fixed and intermittent activities, and an activation team – that was specifically designed to give national and international students, its staff, and industry partners everything they needed and wanted: recognition, stimulation, and opportunity. In short, it returned the campus to its most important asset: its people, and in particular its students.

Critically, our advice was to turn the traditional narrative for a plan of works on its head, whereby the planned intervention did not begin with the masterplanned build, move on to the non-fixed components or refurbishment of the estate, and is then overlaid by plans for the user experience. Rather, in the case of UWA, each aspect or theme of the main campus masterplan is led by the experience masterplan, in which activities inform refurbishment and new build needs. Key pillars of the strategy include both the university’s recognition of the cultural heritage of indigenous Kaatajin Boodja traditions and its adoption of a supporting environmental sustainability strategy.

Still in process, our recommendations for UWA’s activated campus have fed into the Crawley Campus Masterplan, published June 2021. Meanwhile, pilot activity-led initiatives have already seen a rise in campus dwell time, rising ATAR scores, and improved student experience survey results from Quilt, ISB and UES.

MARKETPLACE OF IDEAS
Experience masterplan

UWA
10:57:34 26 AUGUST 2021

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