Arts West (Building 148) is the Faculty of Arts' most significant infrastructure project in recent years. Officially opened in August 2016, it has created dynamic teaching and learning spaces for students and staff.
Arts West is the vibrant home of the Bachelor of Arts, giving our undergraduates access to world-class spaces, and equipping our academic staff with a purpose-built teaching and research environment.
The building combines the existing West Wing (former 1990s building) and a new North Wing containing state-of-the-art learning spaces. The North and West Wing are linked by the Atrium, an expansive, light-filled space with a suspended central staircase giving access to the upper levels and the basement Lecture Theatre (the pre-existing Kathleen Fitzpatrick Theatre).
The building has direct walkway connections to the Baillieu Library (Building 177), which is central to teaching and research in the humanities and social sciences. The project commenced in December 2014 and was completed in July 2016, being officially opened in August 2016.
- Faculty of Arts
- Kylie Gillman
Manager, Executive Communication and Liaison
Ngoon godgin-nganjinu boorndup Gulinj -al biik-u dharri-nganjin-dui, lalal-bulok ba gugung-bulok-al Wurundjeri-wilam-u. Wurundjeri-wilam-al Gulinj-u, baambuth, yalingbu ba yirramboi. Yan-nganjin wominjeka kirrip-bulok mag-golee ba biik-al gulinj-u boorndup. Boorndup-nganjinu biik ba ngarr-gi mirrim-al Wurundjeri-wilam gulinj-u wunga-dhan baambuth-u, yurrongi-nganjin, mag-golee, yalingbu ba yirramboi.
We respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we stand the elders of the Wurundjeri-wilam people of the Kulin Nation, past, present and future. We seek to follow in their traditions of welcoming others to this place and of treating the land and its peoples with respect. We honour that these lands have been part of knowledge passed on to new generations for thousands of years, and we continue that tradition.
A vibrant educational tool
Arts West is the Faculty of Arts' most significant development in over 40 years. The building is a vibrant educational resource, tailored specifically to support the pedagogy of the Bachelor of Arts and teaching and learning in the humanities and social sciences.
Arts West is a proactive response to contemporary drivers of change including the democratisation of knowledge access and sharing, internationalisation and the digital world. In response to these changes we are ensuring that students, staff, industry partners and the community of the Faculty of Arts have access to world-class facilities and technologies to provide a globally competitive learning and teaching experience.
New learning spaces
The spaces have been purpose designed, and include facilities for collaborative and project based learning, interactive learning (including a cinema- quality interactive theatre), a media laboratory, and lecture and discursive spaces. There are two specialised teaching rooms to combine the great potential for object-based learning presented by Museums and Collections with our responsibilities for the care and conservation of these precious objects. For more information please see the Teaching with Unique Collections website.
Object-based learning and the new Arts West
Through an emphasis on object-engaged learning, the building provides students with the experience of first hand engagement with valuable cultural and rare collections material to inform their learning, drive research training, and enable an enriched experience of how knowledge is activated. Through Arts West, the Faculty continues to deliver the Bachelor of Arts, an undergraduate degree with an undergraduate degree with over 30 majors across more than 40 disciplines, giving our students the richness and depth of education that The University of Melbourne is famous for.
Immediately adjacent to the Atrium, the Arts West Gallery displays curated collections of objects and artefacts from the University's Museums and Collections.
Future based learning in world class spaces
Arts West provides dynamic spaces, which enable a wide variety of future, directed forms of learning including object and media based teaching. The building delivers a wide range of teaching spaces which greatly facilitate our students learning experience and course satisfaction. The building places the University's valuable cultural collections at the centre of the curriculum and facilitates a unique campus-based learning experience and greater opportunity for community education.
Arts West reaffirms Arts as an intrinsic part of the New Generation curriculum. The building drives future-based learning in world class spaces allowing students to expand their learning experience out into the increasingly digitalised and globalised world whilst simultaneously focusing inwards on their education in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
The Digital Studio is located in Arts West on levels 2 and 3 of the West Wing. Set across two floors, the Digital Studio provides a range of services and infrastructure to support University researchers, professionals and selected industry experts and students working on digital projects in the humanities, arts and social sciences (HASS). The Digital Studio assists the Faculty of Arts in building scale in significant and interdisciplinary fields of research endeavour. The Studio is equipped with digitisation facilities, immersive screens and specialised software.
A vibrant home for the Bachelor of Arts
The Bachelor of Arts is one of the largest undergraduate degree programs at the University and comprises a large and varied cohort. With a diverse and ever increasing student body is it is essential to have an identifiable home for the Faculty of Arts' undergraduate programs.
Arts West enhances opportunities for our students to contribute to the dynamism of the Arts community and provides both a physical and metaphorical home for our suite of undergraduate programs. The building occupies a central position within the Arts Precinct, encouraging connection and learning between the Faculty of Arts and the University's rich Museums and Collections.
A place to relax on campus
In the Arts West building, students experience an engaging space in which they can learn and study. Both the building and its surrounds offers a range of formal and informal spaces for study, peer-to-peer learning, student enrichment activities and a place to relax on campus. The Arts precinct is a place for students to identify with and connect to through the Arts West building.
The world-class facilities not only provide dynamic teaching and learning spaces which enable future-directed learning with a globalised perspective but accelerate the uptake of new ideas and the adoption of new approaches to the learning, teaching and research experience.
Arts West garden space
The external garden landscaping references the University System Garden, showcasing plants of the southern hemisphere continents between 30°and 40° South Latitude. Notable flora includes the Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata), Ombu (Phytolacca dioica), African Holly (Elaeodendron croceum) and the Peruvian Pepper (Schinus molle).
Arts West also has garden spaces accessible from the upper floors of the building, including the North Terrace and the West Terrace, intended to provide additional facilities for events and informal learning.
The University of Melbourne is committed to delivering a sustainable campus. This is demonstrated through a wide range of activities and initiatives across campus, including the sustainability of the Arts West building.
The goal of the Arts West building is to enhance teaching and learning in a way that is financially responsible and embodies the University's commitment to environmental stewardship. During the construction of Arts West, the project targeted a 5 star Green Star Education v1 Design rating, which equates to Australian Excellence.
The building enhances teaching and learning by providing excellent indoor environment quality in all teaching and staff spaces, including:
- 100% outside air, with no recirculation
- An indoor air quality management plan
- High quality external views, with blinds to help control glare
- Design for good speech intelligibility and to minimise distracting noise from building services
- A high level of thermal comfort
The building is cost-effective to run owing to the following design features:
- The iconic shading system blocks solar radiation before it enters the building, and combined with double glazing, reduces the need for cooling
- The air-conditioning predominantly uses chilled beams and is focused on the teaching and staff spaces, where is it most needed, with the corridors controlled at a wider temperature band and the Atrium being naturally ventilated only
- Energy efficient LED lighting is used throughout the building, at a power density that is significantly better than Building Code of Australia (BCA) requirements
- Good maintenance access has been provided to centrally located plant, windows and the atrium roof
- Rain water and fire system test water is captured and reused for toilet flushing and irrigation
- An energy and water sub-metering system, with a user friendly interface, helps University staff monitor and manage the building, and help end-users to understand the building's performance
The building demonstrates the University's commitment to the environment through:
- Targeted 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to a BCA code compliant building
- Water efficient fixtures and fittings, combined with water re-use, reducing the water consumption of the building
Arts West exterior
The Arts West Façade
A landmark feature of Arts West is the façade including images of objects in the University's Museums and Collections. The chosen images reflect the intellectual, cultural and interdisciplinary traditions and diverse knowledge systems that underpin teaching and learning in humanities and the social sciences.
The galvanised steel fins shading the weatherproof glass walls of the building are engraved with the images, which reveal themselves depending on viewer perspective and the light conditions. This concept of revelation echoes the process of learning and discovery in the humanities and social sciences.
Arts West façade video
Officially opened by the VC Professor Glyn Davis in the presence of Chancellor Elizabeth Alexander on 25 August 2016, the stunning building provides the University's Arts Precinct with 24 high-quality, dedicated teaching and learning spaces, a digital studio and a façade that displays images from the University's cultural collections.
About the façade images
In the metal fins on the Arts West facade you will find the impressions of five selected artworks and artefacts fundamental to knowledge. These images represent an array of cultures, eras and viewpoints, and illustrate the relationship between the Faculty of Arts and the intellectual, cultural and historical traditions that underpin our research and teaching.
Each artwork and artefact has been selected for its significance to the history of the Faculty, for its disciplinary breadth and for its ability to aesthetically adapt to the architectural concept.
The final design is a balance of images and ambiguous shapes. By spacing the images out across the façade, the distinction between figure and abstraction, between object image and background is blurred.
The final images are abstract, encouraging exploration and interpretation - like the process of enquiry and revelation which underpins learning and discovery.
Artworks and artefacts
Unknown maker (India)
Untitled (scenes from the Bhagavad Gita and the life of Krishna)
c. late 20th century
Ink and natural dyes on cotton
Faculty of Arts, the University of Melbourne
This textile is from Andra Pradesh and is painted in the Kalamkari style. The central panel shows a moment in a dialogue between Prince Arjuna and the god Krishna from the Bhagavad Gita. This exchange contains advice about how to lead a good life and summarises a number of the important philosophical principles which underpin Hinduism.
Tommy McRae (Australian c. 1830s-1901)
Ceremony with Buckley and sailing-ship
Pen and ink on paper
Foord Family Collection
The University of Melbourne Archives
Tommy McRae was an artist of the Kwat Kwat people. He lived and worked along the Murray River and in northern Victoria between Yackandandah and Wahgunyah. Many of his pen and ink drawings date from the period in the 1880 and 90s when he was living at Lake Moodemere. McRae sold his drawings on commission usually in the form of sketchbooks. His dramatic images often include telling observations about the relationships between indigenous people and European settlers.
The Amykos painter
Lucanian red-figure krater
c. 420 BCE
The University of Melbourne Art Collection
Gift of David and Marion Adams
The Amykos painter is the name given to an important artist based in the region of Lucania in Southern Italy. By the fourth century BCE Greek colonies and trading ports were located throughout the Mediterranean generating a rich cross-fertilization of ideas and objects across cultures.
Unknown maker (Iran)
c. 850-650 BCE
The University of Melbourne Art Collection
Gift of Peter Joseph, Marilyn Sharpe and Susan Rubenstein in honour of their parents Keith and Zara Joseph
These finials are typical of the bronze work found in the mountainous Luristan region from 900 to 700 BCE. This was a period when a tradition of innovative bronze casting flourished in the area.
Bertram MacKennal (Australian 1863-1931)
The University of Melbourne Art Collection
Gift of Dr Joseph Brown 1980
Bertram MacKennal's bronze statuette was one of many artworks from the last decade of the 19th century which dealt with the subject of the biblical dancer Salome. From Oscar Wilde's play of 1893 to Mallarmé's Herodiade (1898) and the dance performances of Loie Fuller and Maud Allan; the legend of Salome was an enduring theme in fin de siècle Europe and Edwardian London.