Located within RMIT’s City Campus, this new 3-storey building creates a unified home for its diverse university community. It comprises prayer spaces, ablution facilities, chaplaincy services, office areas and multi-purpose spaces to be utilised by various faith and wellbeing groups. The architectural expression is one of integrity and strength, appropriately civic in nature avoiding alignment with any singular faith or activity group.
Following completion of an in-depth feasibility study to select a suitable location for a Muslim Prayer Space within the RMIT City Campus, we were engaged as architects for the evolved project; the RMIT Multifaith & Wellbeing Centre early in 2020. With the sudden onset of COVID-19, this was one of the few university projects to continue throughout the uncertain intervening period. The scope broadened to accommodate numerous faith and wellbeing groups and involved extensive stakeholder consultation to develop a comprehensive brief, respectful of the needs of the diverse groups involved.
Navigating the torrid period of higher education budget cuts, fluctuating construction prices and extensive lockdowns added considerable challenges to the realisation of this project, however the rigorous process involving ongoing stakeholder consultation, regular reporting and high-level approvals from RMIT & the City of Melbourne ensured the project continued. In addition to complying with industry standards, our design had to meet RMIT Design Standards and the project-specific ESD strategy which established ambitious environmental performance goals. A variety of active and passive design strategies have been utilised, including building orientation, window placement, glazing and sun-shading, airtightness, thermal insulation and natural ventilation. Lower embodied energy and locally manufactured materials with high recycled content were prioritised.
Internally, a series of large spaces lead from a generously sized central spine and open staircase, facilitating movement throughout the building and encouraging respectful interactions between user groups. The main prayer/multipurpose spaces offer thoughtful, controlled views out to the surrounding inner-city context. Shafts of light penetrate these spaces through the shrouded windows punched into the façade, while a full-height, coloured glass feature window floods the interiors with ever-changing light.