Finalist 2021

RMIT Rodda Lane

RMIT / Sibling Architecture

Rodda Lane Precinct stitches together back-of-house laneways and provides the university with additional outdoor flexible spaces and improved student amenity.

This project forms part of the revitalisation of RMIT University’s public realm, transforming under-utilised spaces into a vivid and welcoming place. This is achieved throughout the Rodda Lane Precinct by stitching together the warren of back-of-house laneways to provide a new focal point to the city campus through the addition of outdoor flexible spaces to improved student amenity.

Design Brief

The brief for the project called to improve the amenity of the laneway precinct within the RMIT city campus by bringing together a series of left-over, disparate, and disjointed spaces (between Bowen, La Trobe and Swanston Streets) while reflecting RMIT’s culture, and considering the rich heritage of the site.


This project was developed by:

Design Process

The procurement process for the project was via an emerging architects design competition of which Sibling were the winning team. Sibling worked collaboratively with RMIT and the consultant team through all stages of the design process right through construction.

The end result is a high quality urban realm project that exceeds the clients brief and delivers the university a new public realm for a variety of uses. The project offers an exploration on how in-between spaces become spaces of celebration through their joyous occupation.

The redesign of the Rodda Lane precinct has dramatically improved the quality of the built environment within the city campus. The provision of these new outdoor spaces gives the opportunity for various user groups to enjoy the public realm of the campus in a new way while also adding more shading and green space. Located between multiple schools and buildings, the project successfully unifies the campus and creates a sense of place, whilst responding to the rich architectural context of the site.

Design Excellence

The project brings a human-centric layer to the city block, through seating and shading infrastructure as well as planting.

We wanted to bring the many disparate elements together though a unified ground plane – we introduced a series of custom concrete pavers that provide a rhythmic direction to and wayfinding to the site – the pavers signal a sense of movement and speed and turn into the concentric zone, prompting inhabitants to enter the void and pause in these social spaces.

High quality materials and custom fittings have been integrated throughout, including brickwork and perforated steel. The project’s materiality is utilitarian, durable, protective, and low maintenance providing long-term value for the client and a long lasting addition to the campus.

Robust steel structure was of utmost importance being a highly trafficked and publicly accessible space. The use of steel allowed us to create custom geometries that would otherwise have been too difficult or cost prohibitive-we were able to powder-coat them to customize them and tie them to our colour palette. Moments of habitation are defined by the steel structures, and these slender columns will also double as a growing apparatus for the native planting below. The perforated steel projects shadow patterns as another layer onto the ground surface creating a sense of performance throughout the day.

The ground surface playfully talks to the patternation of the Building 8 but remains distinctly different and acts a counterpoint to the warmer brick tones throughout. The pattern from the paving is projected onto multiple vertical surfaces - into the seats, the steel tables, perforated steel shade structures and on to the stairs above.

At a human scale, colour variations and changes of the material perforation provides a textural quality to these spaces.

Design Innovation

As mentioned below, the project contributes walkable liveability to the many new inhabitants of the dense new residential tower precinct to the north west of the CBD. Public space needs to be maximised in the city, as is evidenced by the crowded State Library lawns every sunny lunch hour. The more that people are able to socialise and recreate in areas adjacent to where they live, the less there is a reliance on carbon heavy transportation systems.

The project also provides an opportunity for increased biodiversity, bringing greenery to what were neglected and overshadowed urban spaces.

Refurbishing and revitalising existing spaces is significant when compared to the carbon footprint of a new build.

The civic legacy of the project to Victoria will be that it is an extension of the laneway typology that Melbourne is known for. It reinforces a language of public space within the laneway system, and showcases the innovation and creativity of the city.

Defining streets and laneways as public space will become more and more relevant as the city transitions towards a car-free zone. This project helps reinforce this idea to residents; presenting not just improved pedestrian thoroughfares but a series of outdoor rooms that can be generously inhabited by the public.

This in turn supports increased resident numbers in the city and allows recreational outcomes within local neighbourhoods so that people are able to support their required amenity through walking rather than consuming other transportation methods.

Design Impact

The key drivers for the project were about how we could make these left over spaces more habitable, to unify this part of the city that was internally disjointed and connect back to the civic fabric, as well as imbue the feeling of the Melbourne cultural laneway back into the campus.

Melbourne is world-famous for its laneway culture, and this project provides a new type of laneway experience. It provides a cross sectional vantage point to the innovation and student life of one of the world’s most dynamic academic institutions, that calls Melbourne home and thereby plays an important role in defining the vibrance and vitality of the city itself.

The project essentially stitches the Hoddle Grid back to Carlton; providing a direct connection by way of a fine-grain filtration system of spaces where these areas were previously an inarticulate blockage.

It also manages to form a cohesive context around a number of iconic Melbourne buildings featured on the RMIT City Campus, pulling them together into a neighbourhood rather than a series of stand-alone buildings.
This project highlights the importance of the shared public realm spaces, and in particular the importance of outdoor spaces in a post COVID-19 environment.

The joy of this project is the way that it offers inhabitants and visitors to and of Melbourne a place to dwell and explore, which is as Melbourne as you can get.

Architectural Design 2021 Finalists

Monash University Chancellery

Monash University / ARM Architecture / Openwork (Landscape Design) / Aurecon (Services and ESD Consultant) / WSP (Structural, fire and waste engineering) / Geyer (Workplace Design Consultant) / Marshall Day (Acoustics)

Sarah Sebastian

Russell & George

Delacombe Stadium

Kosloff Architecture / VSBA

Pascoe Vale Primary School

Kosloff Architecture / VSBA

La Trobe University Library Bendigo

La Trobe University / Kosloff Architecture / Structural Engineering: IRWIN / Consulting Engineers Services Engineering: Stantec / Building Surveyor: Philip Chun

NGV Triennial 2020 Outdoor Pavilions

National Gallery of Victoria / BoardGrove Architects Pty Ltd CBD / Contracting Group (Builder not Designer)

Springvale Community Hub

Lyons / Rush Wright Associates / City of Greater Dandenong

ACMI Renewal

BKK Architects / Razorfish / ACMI

Melbourne Connect

Woods Bagot / University of Melbourne / Lendlease

Breese St

DKO Architecture / Breathe Architecture / Milieu Property

Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street

Bates Smart / M&L Hospitality / Mulitplex / Lovell Chen / Studio Ongarato / Point of View

Davison Collaborative

HIP V. HYPE / ARCHIER

Waterfront Mushi

Canhui Chen, Swinburne University / Daniel Prohasky, Swinburne University / Joshua Salisbury-Carter, Swinburne University / Alex Reilly, Arup / Alessandro Liuti, Arup / Nancy Beka, Studio Edwards / Ben Edwards, Studio Edwards

Prahran Square

ASPECT Studios / Lyons / City of Stonnington