2018 National Architecture Awards: National Award for Urban Design

New Academic Street, RMIT University by Lyons with NMBW Architecture Studio , Harrison and White, MvS Architects and Maddison Architects Urban Design: National Award Australian Institute of Architects

Jury citation

During the 1960s and 1970s, RMIT built several high-walled grey block buildings on Melbourne’s Swanston and Franklin Streets. Over time their imposing presence and impact on the streetscape became challenging in a city full of physical and visual connections. The New Academic Street project is a masterful reimagining of RMIT’s image on these streets. It takes urban cues from its own city, breaking through street walls with a series of lanes and arcades that extend existing orthogonal pedestrian networks, even to the extent of drawing Melbourne’s bluestone footpaths into and through the building. The urban design concept is a simple but extraordinarily effective way to transform the scale, grain and general presence of the existing buildings. In a decision entirely appropriate to the concept, Lyons chose to include four other architectural teams (all RMIT alumni) as collaborative designers. The outcome is a concept that turns the campus inside out, providing a gritty and loose network of student-oriented spaces – a city in a city, rich in connections, technology, diversity and complexity. It is a radical and appropriate place for students to step off the street, sit, meet, study and connect. The project sets up an urban framework for occupation that manages to negotiate complex and conflicting levels, places and spaces – as a whole it is more than the sum of its parts.

For more coverage, read Andrew Nimmo’s project review from Architecture Australia Sept/Oct 2018.


Lyons Architecture
Melbourne, Vic, Australia
NMBW Architecture Studio
Melbourne, Vic, Australia
Harrison and White
Brunswick, Melbourne, Vic, Australia
MvS Architects
Melbourne, Vic, Australia
Maddison Architects
Melbourne, Vic, Australia
Acoustic engineer AECOM
Builder Lend Lease
Building services and environmental design consultant AECOM
Building surveyor PLP Building Surveyors & Consultants
Disability access consultant Architecture and Access
Fire engineer AECOM
Hydraulic consultant CJ Arms & Associates
Landscape consultant TCL
Program consultant PSA Project Management
Project manager DCWC Melbourne
Quantity surveyor Wilde and Woollard
Structural, civil & facade engineer Arup
Town planner Meredith Withers and Associates
Wind engineer MEL Consultants
Site details
Location Melbourne,  Vic,  Australia
Site type Urban
Category Commercial / public buildings
Type Universities / colleges
Project Details
Status Built
Completion date 2017
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