Learning and Teaching Investment Fund 2009

Summary of Projects

Project Title

Building the Community (Stage-3): Developing a Multi-Disciplinary, ‘Live’ Teaching Model For Design and Property Students at RMIT Melbourne and RMIT Vietnam

Project Leaders

Dr Esther Charlesworth

Project Summary

The Building the Community Project (Stage 3) was based upon an integrated practice studio model using a ‘live project’ in rural Vietnam to deliver real world teaching, research and community service experience and outcomes for RMIT University design and construction students and staff – and a tangible outcome for an external client - a ‘design and construction’ proposal for a day-care centre for physically-disabled children on behalf of the Kianh Foundation in Hoi An. The project involved 4 key partners working towards a final design proposal for a disability day care centre in Dien Ban, Vietnam. The partners included:


  • The Kianh Foundation;
  • BURO architects;
  • Architects Without Frontiers.





  • An innovative multi-disciplinary teaching and cross-campus design studio-based model, developed across the design, construction and multimedia disciplines at RMIT University (Melbourne and Vietnam campuses).
  • Development of an ‘integrated practice studio’ teaching model that uses design to assist communities in need, and enable students ‘real world’ learning outcomes through immersion in rural community development projects and with the opportunity to see their design projects actually built.
  • Integration of cross-cultural, stakeholder communication and consultation skills with students’ project-based learning.
  • An exhibition of the student work in August 2010.
  • Production of a design report to Architects assessing the sustainability of the proposed design for the Disability Day Care Centre.
  • Production of an ‘RMIT Guide to Live Projects synthesing students’ experiences across predeparture modules and fieldwork.
  • Video documentary on 2010 staff/student experiences and reflections on the project; (directed by Iain McKay).
  • Compilation of a project evaluation report detailing experiences of students, staff and clients of the day-care centre project through ‘learning contracts’.
  • Through the ‘NING’ platform, all course materials and fieldwork exercises and reflections have been compiled that can be made available in e-copies to future staff and students at the RMIT University and RIUV. These materials will also be available on the RMIT University Architecture and Design website by June 2010.

This studio had a profound impact on most of the students and staff participating in the project. The main outcome for students was the knowledge that their studio outputs will be used to realise an actual building for a marginalised group in Hoi An, the disabled children of the Hoi An orphanage.

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