The significant redevelopment of RMIT’s main academic buildings and library along Swanston Street addresses key issues of the precinct. A diverse consortium was engaged to Reactivate the Swanston Street frontage, providing new links from this spine through the heart of the buildings to Bowen Lane as well as new library services, and delivering new informal student learning spaces and a centre for food and retail.
TCL was commissioned as landscape architects and urban designers to ensure the public realm contributed to the revitalisation and dynamism of the precinct. The project required new connecting laneways, student spaces along the Bowen Lane Terrace and significant new roof garden landscapes.
Over the past 20 years, under the stewardship of Peter Elliott, its public spaces have been upgraded and connected with a sequence of legible lanes, courts, squares and promenades that form part of the greater city circulation structure and identity.
To provide greater connectivity and permeability to the campus, we used the morphology of the city to establish new connections from Swanston Street to Bowen Lane. These laneways convey a Melbourne character in both scale and materiality to stitch the site into its broader context.
New Academic Street (NAS) provides a civic experience on campus, offering vibrancy, social opportunities, dynamism and changing events and character, all commensurate with great city experiences.
The Bowen Terrace consolidates this precinct as the heart of the City Campus via a generous urban platform that has become a setting for student life. A new timber terrace is now host to events, graduation celebration, student clubs, markets, food and beverage services, as well as informal seating spaces.
Bold custom-designed seating by TCL provides an arresting graphic and compliments the relocated Yellow Beam Arbor – a weather protection canopy originally designed by Peter Elliott. Transplanted Melias from the site are arranged to provide a central shady grove and counterpoint to the urban terrace.
In a campus with limited external spaces, Bowen Terrace fulfils a need that staff and students were provided a setting that fostered multiple functions from meeting, study, quiet reflection, while being flexible enough to cater for major events and ceremonies.
NAS integrates roof landscapes as an intrinsic part of the multi-level development to ensure external spaces for parties, meeting, study or reflection are available at many levels of the project. An outdoor terrace and garden extend seamlessly from the redeveloped library, ensuring the NAS project overall provided 40% more student space than what was previously available.
Sustainability is a core goal for RMIT and as such the NAS project has been designed to ensure that resources provide long-term value and that the campus is vibrant, accessible and innovative. RMIT is committed to developing buildings and facilities that are designed to meet high standards of energy and water efficiency while reducing carbon emissions and encouraging responsible behaviours.
Features of NAS and its public realm include rejuvenating existing buildings, creating natural ventilation that is integrated with green roof technology, using low impact and recycled materials, creating living laboratories in conjunction with landscape architecture students, and collecting, filtering and recycling water.
Other designers involved in the design of landscape:
Lyons, NMBW Architecture Studio, Harrison and White, Minifie van Schaik Architects, Maddison Architects.
Collaboration – Peter Elliott
Garden Building landscape architecture – Glas landscape Architecture
Project location: La Trobe St, Melbourne VIC, Australia
Design year: 2014-16
Year Built: 2017
Photos: Shannon McGrath, Massimo Combi