Learning and Teaching Investment Fund 2011

Summary of projects

Project title

The Project Office: Design Teaching through Community + Industry Partnerships

Project leaders

  • Melanie Dodd
  • Leanne Zilka,
  • Gretchen Wilkins
  • John Cherrey

Project team

  • Tarryn Boden
  • Susan Massey

Project summary

The Project Office is an innovative learning and teaching development, incorporating community and industry partnership. Located within the University in an ‘office’ or practice based spatial and organizational setting, the Project Office has operated as an entity through which ‘real live’ projects in architecture, design and construction are delivered collaboratively by staff and students as a learning and teaching practice in partnership with external agencies, government and industry. The Project Office proposal has aimed to fundamentally expand work-integrated learning beyond the ‘placement’ model, toward a ‘partnership’ model with industry that extends the capacity of discovery and innovation in learning in a core industry sector related to RMIT University’s Strategic Plan.

The Project Office has been spatially and organizationally sited in Architecture and Design (Building 88 Project Space) and has provided a design office environment of: an office administrator; four work stations; drawing and modelling layout spaces; printing facilities located within the industrial design offices, direct product and material library resources and a client meeting space. As the team includes the School of Architecture and Design library and technical learning and teaching staff, there has been a close and facilitated relationship with the digital fabrication workshop and a fabrication-cutting machine has been located within the project space for use by the students. The Project Office has facilitated a new type of learning and teaching experience where students have undertaken key design studio syllabus through the mechanism of real projects facilitated by the project team in conjunction with the office administrator. These projects have been partnerships with community and industry, and have involved the production of specific tasks and outcomes including; feasibility and research reports with stakeholders and partners, design and materiality testing and trials, manufacturing of prototypes and installation testing. Such partnerships formed have included Vic Urban, City of Greater Dandenong, Capral Aluminium, Dunlop Foams, Austral Plywood, Jamco Sign Services, Monash University, Port Phillip City Council, Lifeskills Victoria, Department of Treasury and Finance, Sustainability Victoria, Antarctica, Centre for Design, and Mornington Shire Council.


Project Office achieved the following project outcomes for 2011. These are detailed and showcased further in the Appendix Book, which is also submitted.

  • King Creek Reserve Project - Curacoa Drive Entry, Melanie Dodd
  • Tree Sprawl Exhibition and Publication, Mauro Baracco
  • Urban Bye-Pass Design Studio, Leanne Zilka, School of Applied Science, Port Phillip City Council
  • Urban Bye-Pass Exhibition, Port Phillip City Library
  • Projects Entry into the Urban Realities Landscape Urbanism 3 Day Design Challenge, Susan Massey and Project Office members
  • Work Where I Live Research Project, Graham Crist, Simon Whibley, Department of Treasury and Finance, Sustainability Victoria, Antarctica, Centre for Design Collaboration: Work Where I Live Symposium with international speakers, Graham Crist, Simon Whibley, Department of Treasury and Finance
  • Life Skills Design Elective, Graham Crist and Life Skills at La Trobe University
  • Annette LeCuyer and Brian Carter, Perfect Skin Blemishes and Tattoos Public Lecture
  • Open Dandenong Exhibition, Melanie Dodd, Tarryn Boden, Monash University, Vic Urban and City of Greater Dandenong
  • Pop-Up Street Design Studio, Melanie Dodd and Tarryn Boden, Vic Urban, City of Greater Dandenong, Monash University
  • Three Little Pigs Design Studio, Gretchen Wilkins, Leanne Zilka, John Cherrey, Capral Aluminium, Dunlop Foams, Austral Plywood, Jamco Sign Services, Laminex
  • “Scripting” Conference Paper presented at the 2011 Acadia Conference Integration through Computation, Gretchen Wilkins, Leanne Zilka, John Cherrey
  • Future Proofing Schools Design Ideas Competition Entry, Gretchen Wilkins, Leanne Zilka, John Cherrey,Tarryn Boden

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