Peter Elliot Architecture and Urban Design: RMIT University has been progressively rebuilding its main city campus as part of a sustained transformation of both its building stock and its open spaces. Founded in 1885, RMIT occupies a pivotal location on the civic axis at the top end of Swanston Street in central Melbourne. Overtime RMIT has grown beyond a single city block and spread out to become an ad-hoc piece of the city. The central campus had progressively developed into a disparate collection of isolated buildings and degraded spaces with little cohesion or connection to the city around it. In the 1990’s the University began a radical process of transformation, commissioning adventurous new architecture and progressively rebuilding the campus with startling results. What was once a gated and inward looking campus was suddenly opened up and connected the city. All the cars were removed along with the gates and fences and a new and vibrant urban environment was created. The transformation of the campus was overseen through the Urban Spaces Project which began in 1995. The plan was to rebuild all the open space on the campus in a staged process that has taken 15 years to complete. What was a cacophony of cluttered streets, laneways, dead-ends and hidden courts, is now a pedestrian-friendly campus of visual delight and interest.
Sector 5 is at the intersection of a number of circulation routes that criss-cross the campus. Its main feature is a big stairway that links University Way through an arch in the old Gaol walls to Alumni Court beyond. It is an urban space with considerable drama.
Alumni Court is a large walled courtyard with direct access from the campus through to Russell Street. It is a retreat space away from the bustle of the city – a place to pause and contemplate or run around on the lawn. It is also an event space for large marquees and festivals.
The Belvedere is a terrace that links the former legal precinct buildings and spaces to the main campus and Russell Street. The terrace which sits at the top of an embankment overlooks University lawn and the walls of the old Gaol.
Client: RMIT University
Project Address: City Campus, LaTrobe Street, Melbourne
Urban Designer/Architect: Peter Elliott Pty Ltd Architecture + Urban Design
Design Architect: Peter Elliott
Project Architect: Rob Trinca
Project Team: Sarah Newton, Rob Troup, Eldo DiMuccio, Justin Mallia, Sean Van der Velden, Catherine Duggan
Stage 2 Period 2000 – 2007
Sectors Complete: 13, 12, 5 North
Photographer: John Gollings