Southbank Hub

Southbank Hub

“This is much more than a library on a campus for creatives – it’s a place to learn, relax and meet-up. Adding an amphitheatre to the library, as counterintuitive as that seems, has made a new place to perform, debate, and rehearse.”

Adam Pustola, Principal at Lyons

The University of Melbourne’s Southbank Hub embodies the importance of the archival object. The Louise Hanson-Dyer Music Library and the Lenton Parr Music collection are the cornerstones of the design, informing the interior spaces and inspiring architectural features throughout. The significance of the collections is both functional for students and researchers as well as symbolic. It speaks to the importance of a tactile, boutique collection that enables connection with the material object. While other resources move online or are stowed away, this collection creates a distinct, intimate experience for music students and scholars. Student services and diverse teaching and study spaces are effortlessly woven amongst the culturally significant collections, blurring the lines of culture and amenity. The result is a design that serves and addresses the needs of The University of Melbourne while reserving a space for creativity to flourish well into the future.

  • Sector

    Education & Learning

  • Key Lyons contacts

    Adam Pustola
    Carey Lyon

  • Client

    University of Melbourne, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music

  • Location

    234 St Kilda Rd, Southbank VIC 3006

  • Traditional land

    Located on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people

  • Size

    7,553 square metres

  • Project status

    Complete, 2018

“Not only does the Faculty now have a beautiful and flexible complex within an existing central and historically important building, it has a successful and startling educational resource.”

Prof. Barry Conyngham AM, Dean, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music at The University of Melbourne

Enriching cultural


the Campus

Embedding cultural experience in university life

The design for Southbank Library came in response to the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music moving the majority of its programs to Southbank in 2019. The library is designed to incorporate the rare collections of the Louise Hanson-Dyer Music Library and the Lenton Parr Music as well as the Visual and Performing Arts Library. Celebrating an extensive collection of books, musical scores, journals and media, the design proposes the contemporary library as a welcoming, scholarly and eccentric place to be. The Louise Hanson Dyer Collection is given an identity through architecture on the first level. The vaulting ceiling expresses the colours of the lyrebird which was the name of the journal founded by the collection’s namesake. This architecture extends through the first floor and draws visitors through the collection toward a new ‘terraced forum’. The design places the Lenton Parr Collection alongside informal seating and study tables, symbolically embedding cultural experience in daily university life. The informal approach to the collection’s display is intentional, encouraging browsing as if in a bookshop.

Connecting a new campus

Connecting the campus’ existing configurations both physically and metaphorically was a unique aspect of the brief. One of the design aspirations of the project was to create distinctly new architecture inspired by the four buildings that sit at the junction of the site, each designed from different architectural eras. The site is two connected buildings – the former Centre for Ideas (Minifie Nixon, 2005) and a 1970s student union building. Driven by sustainable design principles, the renewal of existing buildings improves energy efficiency and enhances amenity, elevating existing elements, such as the internal courtyard, and establishing new ones just as seamlessly. The project is almost entirely interior spaces designed to reference elements of the performing arts, bringing together the idea of theatre balconies and the vivid colours of the Arts Centre with the profiled ‘warehouse ceilings’ of art galleries, while creating a welcoming environment that transforms an awkward amalgam of buildings. The new Southbank Hub explores how the architecture and design of student services and a library can connect and transform the campus, carving out a more social and meaningful place within the tight confines of a city campus.

Putting student services on show

From the consolidation of services, to facilitating on campus interactions, the design for Southbank Hub contributes to the student experience of The University of Melbourne. The Hub is designed to be permeable and highly accessible to the entire campus community so it can use it at all times of semester. The transparency of spaces for passive surveillance, relaxed seating and diverse settings encourage student use well into evenings. The ground floor is highly porous, offering multiple entries, open social study areas, two large digital teaching and learning studios, a communal kitchen and provision for a small café. These spaces focus on the centralised student services and library counter which operates as a ‘one stop shop’ for all student enquiries. The student services area is designed adjacent to the library making both spaces more accessible and ‘on show.’

A landscaped courtyard that had previously been closed-off from student access is renewed and made a focus of the new library spaces. It provides an accessible outdoor space and ample natural light to the library levels. A unique addition to the library design is the new amphitheatre, encouraging socialising, rehearsal and relaxation. The unique space provides students with a memorable, flexible and playful space for study, conversation or performance.

Key Contacts

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