Students at the centre of new $70 million Arts and Cultural Building

The new building at the University’s Parkville campus will be a cultural hub for students.

A vibrant new $70 million Arts and Cultural Building at the University of Melbourne puts students at the centre of a space that encourages connection, artistic creativity, and collaboration.

The new building at the University’s Parkville campus will be a cultural hub for students, playing host to two new theatres and state-of-the art audio and lighting systems, in addition to the University of Melbourne Student Union’s (UMSU) established art programs.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell said student co-creation was key to informing the design and composition of the building.

“The building responds to the needs of students who told us they want places on campus that encourage artistic expression and enrich their university experience beyond study,” Professor Maskell said.

“Some of Australia’s finest theatre performers, artists, directors and arts leaders were able to develop their talents at the University of Melbourne. The new Arts and Cultural Building will enable the creative talents of future generations of students to flourish.”

Spanning four levels, the Arts and Cultural Building includes the iconic Union Theatre which has been reinvented as a 398-seat proscenium-arch theatre complete with orchestra pit and 50 metre fly tower, as well as the 102-seat black-box Guild Theatre.

Both theatres will be utilised by UMSU for their long-established arts programs, student theatre groups and student performing arts groups, and open to all University of Melbourne students. The theatres are complemented by new rehearsal rooms, dressing rooms, and backstage areas.

Other features of the new building include the George Paton Gallery which will host student art exhibitions; an Arts Lab for students to run creative workshops; and 300 informal study workspaces.

Feedback from those  with a lived experience of disability has ensured the Arts and Cultural Building supports inclusion onstage and in the audience, setting a new benchmark for theatre spaces that aim to deliver a truly welcoming and inclusive experience for all.

The Arts and Cultural Building is targeting 6 Star Green Star certification. LED lighting is used in both theatres, rainwater is captured to irrigate plants and cool the building, an organic waste digestor processes food waste, and all the food outlets will be single use plastic-free.

It is the second new building to open as part of the broader Student Precinct Project at the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus. The Project encompasses two new buildings and five fully refurbished buildings, as well as a significant increase in outdoor landscaped areas.

The Student Precinct Project is one of the biggest investments the University has made at the Parkville campus and signals the University’s commitment to delivering a world-class, campus-based experience for its students.

The Arts and Cultural Building was designed by Lyons Architecture and built by Kane Constructions.