The System Garden

The System Garden, located within the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus, 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 System Garden was designed as a unique formal scientific, cultural and landscape feature and today it holds a cherished position within both the University and wider community.

Over the coming years the University of Melbourne is developing world leading facilities for the study, research and engagement of the biological sciences. The package of work to create this future is called the Western Edge Biosciences (WEBS) program and some of these works will occur adjacent to the System Garden.

The biological sciences play a significant role in solving the global challenges of health and food security, and the University of Melbourne is committed to ensuring the System Garden is a celebrated and protected 'centrepiece' that inspires and educates in this exciting new chapter for biological sciences.

Enhanced public access which respects and protects the garden, a development of a master plan to guide the development of the garden into the future and the reinstatement of garden beds are just some of the commitments for the System Garden, which is a historic and inspiring fabric of the University of Melbourne Parkville campus.

Masterplan

In July 2017 the University commenced a process to develop a 10 year master plan of the System Garden with Glas Architects. An engagement process with academics, staff and students is underway to clearly understand the themes and narratives of the System Garden, and to hear from the specialists that exist within the university.

Western Edge Biosciences & the System Garden

The Western Edge Biosciences (WEBS) program will create premier teaching and learning, and research facilities for the biological sciences at the University of Melbourne. The new WEBS Stage 1 building will be built adjacent to the System Garden, primarily on the footprint of building 142 north and a paved fenced off service area next to Tin Alley.

The design brief for WEBS treats the System Garden as a ‘centerpiece’ to the biosciences precinct to be celebrated and protected – and with the building harmoniously composed into the garden. A small area of the garden (4.3% net) is affected and no heritage listed trees are being removed as part of the project. Public access to the garden will be maintained through the project, which is projected to complete in 2019.

The project will also:

  • Connect the System Garden to the University’s harvested water system, thereby reducing reliance on mains water.
  • Develop place principles and a master plan to guide the development of the garden into the future.
  • Enhance public access which respects and protects the garden through a new entry on Tin Alley.

Consultation

All work impacting the System Garden has being informed by close collaboration with University of Melbourne ground staff, heritage advisors, our Landscape Advisory Group, and consultation with representatives from the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, Faculty of Science as well as professional staff and students.

If you have any enquiries about this project please contact our team at: systemgarden-enquiries@unimelb.edu.au

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

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 used as a teaching garden.

The biological sciences will play a significant role in solving the global challenges of health and food security which include: improving the quality and length of life, better stewardship of essential natural resources, water, energy and global ecosystems and increased productivity of crops, livestock, other foods and natural fibres.

WEBS Stage 1 will play a key role in training our next generation of bioscientists, doctors, and veterinarians; and the System Garden will continue to be a valuable learning resource. It is fitting that the garden will maintain its active role in the learning and teaching of the biological sciences at the University of Melbourne.

QUALITY EXPERIENCES

The garden’s natural and cultural values have made it a cherished place, and an important part of the University experience.

The University looks to maintain and where possible enhance this quality experience through this development. Key points include:

  • No trees listed on the City of Melbourne significant trees register are being removed.
  • There is no encroachment on the heritage overlay area in the centre of the garden.
  • Harmonious building design includes external plantings and terrace garden.
  • Protected public access to the garden via Tin Alley will be created as part of the project.
  • New garden beds and garden area will be added near Tin Alley, ‘reclaiming’ garden area that had been paved over and removed from public access in the past.
  • Future plans will be informed by principles being developed by the University’s Landscape Advisory Group. This includes:
    • Protecting the existing garden for future generations.
    • Promoting the garden, and conserving its teaching value for the enjoyment of all.
    • Looking for opportunities to ‘give back’ space to the garden in any future redevelopment.