The System Garden

Located within the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus, The System Garden was first established in 1856 and was designed by the University of Melbourne’s first Professor of Natural History, Frederick McCoy in concert with architect Edward La Trobe Bateman. The garden was a special place of scientific and historical aspirations of University in a golden time of scientific discovery and enquiry. The System Garden was designed as a unique formal scientific, cultural and landscape feature and holds a cherished position within the University and wider community.

Today, the System Garden continues to be a unique learning environment that contributes to the campus aspiration that is a true “Living Laboratory.”

It also serves as a social space for students, and a place that features strongly in the memory of alumni as a secret and calm environment. It is the second largest open space on the Parkville campus and provides treasured, secluded, diverse greenspace to academics and students.

The 10-Year Masterplan

In July 2017, the University commenced a 10-year master plan of the System Garden with Glas Landscape Architects. This master plan will safeguard and enhance the garden into the future.

The garden is not sufficiently protected and is at risk from further piecemeal built incursions. This master plan will provide clear direction and future for the System Garden and develop a strategy to communicate its value to the University community.

Stage 1 Western Edge Biosciences

The Master Plan is working to sensitively incorporate the Western Edge Biosciences (WEBS) development into the System Garden.

Get Involved!

Thank you for your participation in the System Garden survey.

Your feedback is important to us and will be used to help shape the future of the System Garden.



Our Campus in the 21st Century

Our Campus in the 21st century (OC21) was developed by the University community in a series of workshops that explored the qualities wanted across all campuses and precincts. It is the formal response to the University of Melbourne’s strategic plan Growing Esteem and is integral to how the University will plan for the future, and to developing high-quality campus-based experiences for diverse communities.

The System Garden will support our campus in the 21st century through the following:

Technology and Tradition

At a turning point in scientific discovery and enquiry the System Garden was founded with the grand aspiration of being one of the most expansive and diverse System Gardens in the world.

The System Garden was designed in 1856 by the University of Melbourne’s first Professor of Natural History, Frederick McCoy and architect Edward La Trobe Bateman. Plants were planted according to an evolutionary system of classification, and the Garden was used for teaching.

Technology and Tradition have been intrinsically part of the System Garden since its establishment 160 years ago and is recognised in its contemporary use for research and teaching.


Quality experiences for students, staff and visitors are often dictated by the amenity of the space around them. The experience of walking through the campus can be varied from one place to the next. The System Garden offers a vibrant, green relief to some of the more urban characteristics in the local vicinity. It adds value to the experience physical spaces on campus and offers a space of respite from the bustle of the wider university.

Spaces and Places

The Parkville Campus is made up of a suite of distinctive ‘courts’ that are framed by the built form and circulation network. The System Garden has a special place and character in this collection of spaces. The System Garden adds unique value to the campus through its botanic diversity and mature vegetation. The diversity of this space is unlike any other in the campus and akin to the Royal Botanic Gardens.