Arts West Redevelopment: The Home of the Bachelor of Arts

In December, construction work commenced on the Arts West Building marking the start of the Faculty of Arts' most significant infrastructure project in recent years. The Arts West Redevelopment Project will enable the creation of new and dynamic teaching and learning spaces for staff and students and will provide a signature building in the Arts Precinct.

Architect team ARM & Architectus were commissioned to design the building which will provide a new home for the Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne. As one of the largest undergraduate degree programs, this new facility (to be completed by mid-2016), will give our students access to world-class spaces, and our academics purpose-built teaching and research environments specifically designed to support the humanities and social sciences.

The new Arts West will house the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, which in turn supports some of the oldest disciplines at the University.  The timing of the project is significant, with 2014 marking the 160th year of teaching Classics at the University of Melbourne and the development of significant alumni and community support to endow the Chair in Classics in perpetuity.

The study of Classics, including Ancient Greek and Latin and studies in ancient literature, history and philosophy, were some of the first subjects taught at the University and have been a core element of the Faculty of Arts' program since its establishment in 1855. These subjects continue to evolve and take in new and exciting advances and discoveries in research. As part of the Classics, Ancient World Studies and Archaeology majors, these subjects continue to provide students with intellectually rich and rewarding experiences. The Faculty wishes to extend its thanks to those alumni who have worked to support the study of classics, and encourages others to become involved.

Arts West will provide a new home for the Classics Program, along with the History, Philosophy, and History and Philosophy of Science programs, and the architects have taken up the challenge of creating a building able to fuse the historic with the distinctly contemporary. The teaching spaces will be provided with the latest technologies for interactive and participatory learning, facilitating collaborative and engaged student experiences. These spaces will enable a focus on material culture through the facilitation of object-based learning, now seen as a key branch of the pedagogy underpinning the Faculty's academic mission. Students will be able to engage 'hands-on' with objects from the University's rich cultural collections, essential to our applied professional programs, while also providing our humanities and social sciences disciplines with objects able to bring learning to life.

Situated opposite the iconic Old Arts Building, the new Arts West will reference the sandstone history of Old Arts and the colonnades of the Old Quadrangle, while bringing something entirely new to the campus.