Not only is Melbourne home to some of the top universities in Australia, but our campuses are architecturally breathtaking and feature historical and contemporary designs. From the Green Brain at RMIT, to the Harry Potter-looking arches at the University of Melbourne, we have gathered a list of architectural gems that combine education with innovation and beauty.
RMIT City Campus
Spread across six city blocks in the heart of Melbourne, the RMIT City Campus caters to a number of disciplines, with courses in historically significant and contemporary buildings.
Originally home to the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, Storey Hall was acquired by RMIT in 1957 and opened as a campus building in 1996. Located on Swanston Street, the building was designed by architectural firm Ashton Raggatt McDougall who took inspiration from Roger Penrose’s scientific theory on tile patterns. The geometric façade is bright green in homage to Hibernian Hall’s Irish heritage and blends postmodern deconstructivism with the building’s original neoclassical aspects. Spilling out from Storey Hall is the Green Brain which sits atop Building 22 and looks a lot like Nickelodeon slime.
In contrast to Storey Hall, the RMIT Design Hub is sleek and features 16,000 sand-blasted glass cells which collect solar energy. Designed by Sean Godsell Architects, the research facility is used by students across various disciplines and the self-sustainable building has won several awards, including the 2013 International Architecture Award.
Housing the Library and School of Architecture and Design, Building 8 is a colourful, postmodern addition to Swanston Street. Completed in 1993, the eye-catching exterior is finished with pink and cyan stone mosaic and a gold framework.
Facing Storey Hall and Building 8, is the Swanston Academic Building, which features six massive lecture theatres and has a five-star green rating. The building was designed by Lyons Architects and features eight coloured anodised finishes. The intention of the design was for it to be a catalyst for dialogue between itself and other famous Melbourne landmarks.
With its own postcode (3800) the Clayton Campus is the largest of Monash University and features exquisite examples of modern architecture, including the New Horizons building. Designed by Lyons, New Horizons focuses on manufacturing research in fields like biomedicine, transport, aerospace and mineral processing, and includes a state-of-the-art room known as ‘the Cave,’ where 3D images can be projected onto a 360-degree curved wall.
Designed by H2o architects, Swinburne University of Technology is located in Hawthorn, a short walk from Glenferrie Road. Swinburne’s main campus has a number of facilities concentrating on engineering, and houses several cutting-edge facilities over 19,000 square meters, including the Brain Sciences Institute, a nanophotonics facility spread across the basement level, a neuroimaging facility with MEG and MRI, and the largest strong structures laboratory in the southern hemisphere. The twin, ten-level buildings are shielded by perforated concrete facades, reminiscent of Lego imprints, and are connected by several glazed bridges. Located at the Hawthorn campus is the Advanced Manufacturing and Design Centre, which was also designed by H2o as an immersive facility where students can explore the next generation of manufacturing possibilities. The AMDC features immersive virtual reality technology and a two-storey timber centrepiece which looks like a jumbo wooden Pac Man.
The largest metropolitan campus in Australia, La Trobe University is located in Bundoora. Designed by architecture firm Yuncken Freeman, this utilitarian, Post-War International style-campus features a moat, wildlife sanctuary, restaurants, bars, banks and medical centre, while their sports facilities are used by A-League soccer team Melbourne Heart. One of La Trobe’s most impressive buildings is the Institute for Molecular Science, which was designed by Lyons. The linked hexagons on the exterior walls were inspired by molecular research and the protruding spaces overlook the northern forecourt.
The University of Melbourne is the second oldest university in Australia and graduates include four prime ministers and five governor generals. There are 12 residential colleges and the main campus in Parkville is one of the most beautiful in the country. Trinity College, Ormond College and Janet Clarke Hall feature ivy-clad buildings from the late 19th century, while the Baillieu Library, which opened in 1959, features 20th century innovation with moveable walls.
Designed by Reed Henderson and Smart, this Gothic Revival building was built in 1887 and is one of Melbourne University’s most historically significant buildings, as it demonstrates architectural craftsmanship and is a reminder of a new era of science teaching.
In contrast to the university’s many Gothic buildings, The Spot is a modern institute with a five-star green rating. Designed by Metier3, The Spot houses the Faculty of Business and Economics and is located on Berkeley Street.
When walking through the arches of the Old Arts Building you half expect to run into Professor Snape on the way to a potions class, as everything from the Tudor-Gothic buildings to the five-storey clock tower is straight out of a Harry Potter novel. Built between 1919 and 1924, the Old Arts Building was designed by S C Brittingham and is home to humanities, social sciences and language faculties.