Arts West

Arts West is the Faculty of Arts' principle teaching building and the most significant infrastructure project in recent years.

Peter Casamento photo

An award winning learning environment

The Arts West Redevelopment at the University of Melbourne is the new home of the Bachelor of the Arts. With its world class object based learning laboratories, integrated displays and digital studio, the Arts West development presents a significant opportunity for students to engage with the University’s archives and collections in new and exciting ways, enriching their experience and understanding of different cultures, eras and ideas.

The spaces within Arts West include facilities for collaborative and project based learning, interactive learning (including a cinema-quality interactive theatre), a media laboratory, and lecture and discursive spaces.

View Awards

A new 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. Standing against the backdrop of Old Arts, and in close proximity to our original home in the Old Quad building, Arts West represents a major investment in the future of teaching and learning in our Bachelor of Arts program.

Interior of Arts West photo

Object Based Learning

Arts West firmly embeds object-based pedagogy in our learning and teaching and connects traditional disciplines with the tools, methodologies and techniques provided by digital technologies.

Arts West has two object-based learning (OBL) laboratories and object displays in corridors, foyers and other spaces, to create an environment where skills are imparted through practical experience and exploration. The engagement with valuable cultural collections material facilitated throughout the building, informs learning, drives research training, and enables an enriched experience of how knowledge is activated.

Interaction with objects and artefacts has a long-lasting effect and relationship with memory and provides a tangible and direct link between the past and the present. Dr Andrew Jamieson, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies
  • A place to relax on campus

    Both the Arts West building and its surrounds offer a range of formal and informal spaces for study, peer-to-peer learning, student enrichment activities and a place to relax on campus.

  • Engaging with cultural collections

    The building showcases and encourages students to engage with the Faculty’s extensive and prized collection of artefacts, fostering a unique learning environment.

  • Connection with the Baillieu Library

    Walkways connect the Baillieu and the Arts West Building, providing movement of staff, students and material objects between these two buildings.

  • Future focused learning

    Arts West allows 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.

Awards List

  • Australian Institute of Architects (VIC), Educational Architecture, 2017
  • Australian Institute of Architects (VIC): COLORBOND® Award for Steel Architecture
  • Australian Interior Design Awards, Public Design - Commendation, 2017
  • Learning Environments Australasia Awards for Excellence, Overall Winner, 2017
  • Learning Environments Australasia Awards for Excellence, An Education Initiative or a Design Solution for an Innovative Program, 2017
  • Learning Environments Australasia Awards for Excellence, New Construction / New Individual Facility - Commendation, 2017
  • Master Builders Association (VIC), Excellence in Construction of Commercial Buildings $30m - $80m, 2017
  • National Australian Institute of Buildings, Commercial Construction $25m to $100m, 2017
  • National Australian Institute of Building, Professional Excellence Awards, National Winner, 2017

Arts West in the Media

The Digital Studio

Arts West also houses a Digital Studio – a dedicated, technology-led space for researchers and collaborators in the field of digital humanities. This facility focuses on the intersection between technology and research, providing great opportunities for interdisciplinary research development, and scope to partner with international institutions, as well as cultural and technology sector organisations.

This Digital Studio in Arts West is one of the best examples of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

Visit the Digital Studio

Professor Rachel Fensham in our immersive room
Arts West façade figures graphic

Design Philosophy

The design of Arts West takes in the history of the Faculty and its place on the Parkville campus, and the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri. It was designed by a team of architects from ARM & Architectus who conceived of the building as a contemporary version of the 16th-century “Kunst und Wunderkammer”, a series of rooms that displayed an encyclopaedic array of objects and artefacts that constituted the world of study and knowledge.

A key feature of this design is the Arts West façade, which cloaks the building in images taken from objects in the University’s Cultural Collections. Its intention is to make visible the relationship between the Faculty of Arts and the rich intellectual, cultural and historical interdisciplinary traditions that underpin our research and teaching. The final images are abstract, encouraging exploration and interpretation - like the process of enquiry and revelation which underpins learning and discovery.

Read more on the façade