An architecture-lover's guide to spending a day at RMIT

An architecture-lover's guide to spending a day at RMIT

Open House Melbourne 2019 is almost here – here’s your go-to guide to visiting the best RMIT has to offer.

More than 200 iconic and significant buildings will be open to the public over the centrepiece weekend, which aims to foster public appreciation for architecture and spark conversations about the future of our cities.

RMIT has a proud history of architectural innovation and will welcome visitors to multiple of its award-winning developments that have embedded the university within the fabric of Melbourne.

Starting at the northern end of Swanston St, here’s how to spend a day working your way down notable RMIT sites along Melbourne’s cultural spine.

9am: Coffee o’clock

Start the day with a coffee and a toastie at Pool House Espresso – you need fuel for a busy day ahead.

The New Academic Street project has recently transformed the heart of the RMIT University city campus, creating new facilities to deliver better services for students.

10am: Explore the heart of the City campus

Now you’re properly caffeinated, stroll across the road to the New Academic Street (NAS) Precinct.

The recently completed Precinct transformed the heart of the City campus, opening it up to the surrounding streetscape through light-filled laneways, glass-roofed arcades, rooftop urban space and outdoor terraces.

Boasting the design prowess of five separate architecture firms, including Lyons and MvS Architects, NAS enabled a new level of industry engagement for students, community stakeholders, and alumni.

Tours run on the hour from 10am until 3pm.

11am: Sustainable innovation at a bustling student hub

Cross Swanston Street to the award-winning RMIT Swanston Academic Building (SAB), a world-class learning and facility right in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD.

Home to more than 6,000 students and 850 staff members, the SAB is comprised of innovative formal and informal student-centred learning and teaching spaces.

To top it off, the SAB is an outstanding example of sustainable construction and has been given a 5-star Green Star rating.

Follow along with a guided tour or explore the interconnected spaces at your own pace. Take a breather on one of the many balconies and view the surrounding cityscape from a perspective you haven’t seen before.

The RMIT Design Archives actively collects material relating to Melbourne design from the twentieth century onwards, and is an integral part of a vibrant research centre in the heart of the city.

12pm: Get your cutting-edge design fix

RMIT’s internationally-renowned School of Architecture and Urban Design and RMIT Design Archives call the Design Hub home.

Opened in 2012, the award-winning building is easily recognised by its unique skin of 17,000 glass disks.

Wander around at your leisure, making sure to stop by The Design Hub Gallery, which exhibits creative, practiced-led design research and is open to everyone – including during the Open House Melbourne Weekend. 

1pm: Settle in for a pub lunch

Your architectural curiosity has been satiated – for now – but your stomach is probably starting to call out for a parma.

Luckily, you’re only quick walk away from the iconic and recently rejuvenated Oxford Scholar.

A treasured RMIT landmark, the historic building was recently renovated for a new generation of students and the community, with March Studio Director and RMIT alumnus Rodney Eggleston leading the creative transformation.

Along with restoring The Capitol to its former glory, RMIT and Six Degrees Architects have made considerable upgrades to the building, transforming it into a contemporary destination for culture, education and innovation.

2pm: A jewel in Melbourne’s crown

Originally designed by celebrated architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin in 1924, The Capitol is considered to be their greatest interior design work.

Following a multi-million-dollar refurbishment, Chicago Gothic-style theatre has reclaimed its rightful place as a Melbourne cultural icon.

RMIT and Six Degrees Architects turned the historic theatre into a contemporary destination for culture, education and innovation, with a direct link to RMIT’s Media Precinct.

Hop on a guided tour or stroll around and enjoy the elaborate Foyer, Salon and Lounge – and don’t miss the spectacularly intricate crystalline ceiling.

Drawing from the RMIT Art Collection and the RMIT Design Archives, the cabinets in the Salon and Lounge at The Capitol provide a small sampling of work from RMIT’s extraordinary cultural collections and resources.

4:30pm-6pm: Urban density and the culture of tightness

Stick around at The Capitol for a public lecture and discussion led by founding partner of Japanese architecture studio Atelier Bow-Wow, Yoshiharu Tsukamoto.

He curated the exhibition Super Tight at RMIT’s Design Hub, which considers techniques for living closely, unpacking the delight and difficulty that arises from the dense occupation of large cities.

Presented in partnership with Open House Melbourne and The Capitol, RMIT University, this lecture is free and open to all.


View the full Open House Melbourne program here.


Story: Jasmijn van Houten


  • Alumni
  • Architecture
  • Arts and culture
  • Urban Design

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