Design Hub

 The Design Hub, viewed from Swanston Street. Courtesy: Sean Godsell Architects

The Design Hub, viewed from Swanston Street. Courtesy: Sean Godsell Architects.

Photo:Sustainability at RMIT Design Hub poster.

The Design Hub is featured in the “Sustainability at RMIT” poster series. For more information on the Design Hub’s environmentally sustainable design features, download a copy of the poster (PDF,398KB).

  • Design Hub vision
  • Design Hub participants
  • Location
  • Architectural features
  • Project update
  • Timeline
  • Consultants
  • News
  • Design Hub vision

    RMIT’s Design Hub is being developed to support and expand the University’s position as an internationally renowned leader in design education and research. Construction of the 12,000m2 facility will also strengthen Victoria’s global reputation as a centre of design excellence and carve out a distinctive niche for Australian design in the global economy.

    The Design Hub will provide facilities, accommodation and a collegial research base for RMIT’s diverse range of design initiatives, design research groups and postgraduate programs. Its research and education programs will be enriched by and developed in consultation with industry members and will be characterised by a work-integrated and industry-embedded focus.

    Multi-disciplinary student teams working with industry and researchers will use the Design Hub as a home base. This will provide the environment for the cross-pollination of ideas and expertise among a range of disciplines including textile and fashion design, architecture, industrial design, landscape architecture, interior design, urban design, engineering, fine art and creative media.

    In bringing together a range of stakeholders from industry, government, community and education sectors, the Design Hub will:

    • build design capability to develop new and improved practices, techniques and tools for industry
    • raise awareness and disseminate use of design in industry - through exhibitions, events and publications
    • develop new products, services and constructed environments
    • transform established industries and grow new industries by developing design capability to increase the range of products and services

    Design Hub participants

    RMIT Design groups who will be major contributors to the Design Hub are:

    • The Design Research Institute

    The Design Research Institute was established in 2007 and is distinguished by its “art and science fusion” design initiatives. Initial research will be undertaken in the areas of Rapid Manufacture, Urban Liveability, Customising Space, Intervention through Art and Geoplaced Knowledge.

    • School of Architecture and Design
    • A number of specialist design related research groups, including Platform Technologies Research Institute, Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory (SIAL) and Virtual Reality Centre

    Collectively these groups will provide the impetus and drive, along with the design related academic schools, for the formation of design research teams who will occupy the bulk of the Design Hub’s floor space.


    The Design Hub will be located at the strategic north-west corner of Victoria and Swanston Streets on the former Carlton United Brewery (CUB) site. The rest of the CUB site is to be developed by Grocon and will be transformed into a ‘mixed-use village’.

    RMIT’s future epicentre of design will add further vibrancy to this part of Melbourne and architecturally, will be an engaging and innovative contrast to the classical, historic Shrine of Remembrance on St Kilda Road, which marks the other end of Melbourne’s civic axis. The Design Hub will have a highly visible presence from Swanston Street north of La Trobe Street.

    Architectural features

    The Design Hub will feature leading-edge facilities for design education, research and engagement with industry.

    The Design Hub will also be distinguished by environmentally sustainable design features and has achieved a Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) 5-star Green Star Education Rating that signifies “Australian Excellence” in environmentally sustainable design.

    Features include:

    • Two basement levels and eight levels above the street
    • A double-skin façade with a unique external skin that incorporates glazing disks. The disks in the outer façade have the capacity to be fitted with photovoltaic collectors for harnessing solar power
    • Rain water harvesting
    • Monitoring and public display of energy consumption
    • Internal waste management system
    • Open-plan, research warehouse spaces
    • Exhibition spaces
    • Design archive housing permanent collections
    • 180-seat lecture theatre and seminar rooms
    • 200-seat multi-purpose facility
    • Rooftop seminar and function spaces
    • Café
    • Forecourt

    Project update

    June 2010 – May 2011

    Delays to the construction program have pushed the occupation date to May, 2012. The project team is focusing on achieving the high quality built outcome as briefed for the project. The external façade panels are being installed at the lower levels, with progress up the building scheduled in the coming months. This will transform the appearance of the Design Hub.

    January – May 2010

    Construction is well underway and works are scheduled to be completed by Q3 of 2011.

    August – December 2009

    Construction began in 2009 and a new Project Manager, Philip Flynn, was appointed to project manage the construction of the Design Hub and the Swanston Academic Building.

    Much work has been undertaken on the excavation of earth in preparation for the construction of the two basement levels of the Design Hub.

    July 2009

    RMIT University has appointed Watpac as the main contractor for the Design Hub. Construction work is set to begin in August, 2009.

    February 2009

    Tender documents were issued for the main contractor on the 26th February 2009.

    January 2009

    RMIT University has been granted planning approval for the Design Hub. At a media conference on the future Design Hub site on the morning of Monday, 2 February, the Victorian Planning Minister, Justin Madden, announced that the planning permit has been approved.

    December 2008

    The RMIT Design Hub project has been awarded $28.6 million in funding from the Federal Government’s Higher Education Endowment Fund (HEEF).

    This 2009 funding round focuses on capital expenditure and strengthening research facilities in Australian universities.

    The Design Hub is one of 11 approved projects, the funding of which is a part of a $4.7 billion nation-building infrastructure package.


    Tender for main contractor goes out

    Late February 2009

    Construction starts

    July 2009

    Scheduled for practical completion

    October 2011


    September 2012



    Sean Godsell and Peddle Thorp Architects in association

    RMIT Project Manager

    Philip Flynn

    Manager, Client Relations

    Tony Metherell

    External project manager

    Rob Fisher (Aurecon)

    Services consultant


    Structural engineer


    Building surveyor

    Philip Chun and Associates

    Quantity surveyor

    Davis Langdon

    Main contractor



    Gardner’s ReMIT (PDF, 900KB)

    Australian Financial Review, 27 July, 2012

    The RMIT vice-chancellor is an unlikely property developer but, as Andrew Cornell writes, Margaret Gardner's instinct that buildings in their own right showcase and develop academic purpose has turned around the fortunes of the 132-year-old Melbourne institution.

    RMIT building to follow the sun (PDF, 2.47MB)

    MX, Tuesday, 3 February, 2009

    The former Carlton United Brewery site in Swanston Street is set to be transformed into an environmentally sustainable Design Hub for RMIT University.

    State gets a $1.9 bn kick-along

    The Age, Sunday, 13 December, 2008

    Victoria has secured $1.9 billion for nine major road and rail projects, and three new facilities at Melbourne's universities, under a stimulus package designed to kick-start growth

    RMIT's eco-friendly campus unveiled

    The Australian, 2 July

    RMIT's new $56 million Design Hub building in Melbourne will incorporate evironmentally responsible design with an outer skin of 16,000 sand blasted glass cells, some of which will be photovoltaic solar power collectors to help shade and power the building.

    Design school promises to shine light on city

    The Age, Wednesday, 2 July

    Just as our skin reacts with the environment around us communicating moods, regulating heat and storing energy - a building planned for RMIT University will use a shimmering jacket of glass cells to join the elements with insensate bricks and mortar.

    [Next: Design Hub Gallery 1]