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Extreme makeover

The heart of RMIT’s City Campus is undergoing an extreme makeover: opening to the city, revamping the library and adding features such as laneways, sky gardens and pop-up shops – all designed by architecture alumni.

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RMIT’s City Campus, between Bowen and Swanston Streets in Melbourne, will be transformed over the next two years. Out-dated interiors will be replaced by light-filled learning and social spaces to transform how people experience the campus.

The project, called New Academic Street (known around campus as NAS), will include a series of laneways and arcades that will crisscross the centre of the campus, porous to the main streets surrounding it, and making a semi-enclosed university hub with multiple entrances, open-air terraces and elevated gardens.

RMIT has engaged five top architectural firms, led by Lyons Architecture, to deliver the transformation. All the firms – Minifie van Schaik, NMBW, Harrison and White, Maddison Architects, and Lyons Architecture – are headed by alumni.

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Bowen Street transformed

Following the project, Bowen Street will be almost unrecognisable compared to now, with an elevated outdoor garden pavilion, student relaxation spaces, cafes and extensive timber decking. A new network of lifts, stairways and escalators will move people through the buildings more efficiently.

The idea is to give students, academics, staff and visitors an urban experience that also has spaces for retreat to create the best kind of campus life.

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Revamping the library

At the heart of any leading university is its library. The extended and revamped Swanston Library will house more than 200,000 volumes and double its study capacity with 2000 seats and a mix of private and group space. One of the most exciting aspects will be the creation of a large semi-enclosed terrace over Bowen Street, part of the Journal Room, where students will be able to read, study and enjoy natural sunlight and fresh air while using the collection. RMIT alumni have free access to the library collection.

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Pop-up retail spaces

A pop-up retail model will be incorporated, providing students, alumni and industry partners with an opportunity to offer new products and services, at competitive price points, with diversity and sustainability at the forefront of the commercial approach. Other larger retail spaces will be placed throughout the NAS precinct to provide an ongoing retail presence. Express your interest in joining the new retail space.

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A greener campus

RMIT City Campus will literally go green, with a scattering of gardens throughout. This will soften the urban edge and give RMIT its own lawns. Creating oases is central to the design scheme, with new green roof spaces that will help the city adapt to climate change, enhance the urban environment and create social spaces for staff and students. Leading sustainability benchmarks are at the core of the project.

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Media, technology and digital spaces

A new Media Precinct will house television and film studios and showcase the use of state-of-the-art technology, such as post-production special effects technology consistent with high-end commercial studios.

Technology infrastructure will allow artists to project building-scale images onto the Swanston Street façade. The Global Passport Lounge, a high-end digital space, will allow students and staff to interact with people across the globe. Students will also be able to exhibit their work in the new precinct.

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A global university of technology and design

This project is not just about bricks and mortar; it’s about creating a campus that showcases RMIT’s strengths as a global university of technology and design. It is an investment in providing the best possible experience for our students, now and into the future. It also ensures that RMIT has the infrastructure in place to enable our professional and academic staff to provide the best possible services to our students. For more information, visit the website.