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Emma Sun
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The University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) will be moving its offices from Union House into the New Student Precinct in 2020/21.

The University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) will be moving its offices from Union House into the New Student Precinct in 2020/21.

The Precinct is part of the University’s Growing Esteem 2015–2020 strategy to transform the campus-based student experience. It will significantly upgrade the facilities, services and amenities for the University’s 60,000 students, 40 per cent of which now study south of Grattan Street, to a location that better reflects the new heart of the Parkville campus.

The Precinct will bring together student-facing services, enabling the co-location of UMSU, the Graduate Student Association (GSA), Stop 1, and the Institute for Indigenous Development, Murrup Barak. This clustering of student services; social, informal and formal study spaces; and an improved food and retail offering will significantly enhance the experience of students at the University.

Students are at the centre of the new Precinct, actively co-creating the services and spaces with the University to ensure that that the needs and ideas of students are fully incorporated and delivered.

A vibrant arts and cultural centre will also be a significant feature of the Precinct. The highly used arts facilities currently enjoyed by students in Union House will be replaced and further enhanced with flexible theatres, rehearsal rooms and programmable spaces, alongside food and retail.

UMSU Student President, Desiree Cai said the move away from the historically significant Union House to the Precinct will ensure that UMSU’s essential student services are more centrally located and accessible to students, especially for those studying south of Grattan Street.

“With the opportunity to increase the visibility of UMSU’s services in the Precinct, the breadth of representative activities, social activities and services the Student Union offers can be put on display. We hope that this exciting move into the Precinct will improve the ability for students to access their union,” Ms Cai said.

 

FUTURE OF THE UNION HOUSE SITE

The University will seek to redevelop the site of the current Union House and have commissioned an urban design framework (UDF) and heritage assessment that looks at the architectural, cultural and social aspects of the building, to identify how the heritage and green spaces of the surrounding areas are respected and retained through a redevelopment.

The UDF will ensure that any future redevelopment of the site remains true to the campus’ character; aligns to the strategic objectives of the University’s Campus Development Framework that will guide the planning, design, and development of the Parkville campus to enable an inclusive, dynamic and engaging campus experience; and to ensure that heritage elements of the site are retained and respected.

The current option for the site being considered by the University is the development of a Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine (STEMM) teaching precinct, inclusive of a Life Sciences research facility, to transform the way STEMM is taught on the Parkville campus.

 

RECOGNISING THE HISTORY OF UNION HOUSE

In recognition of Union House’s significant history and place in the hearts of current staff, students and alumni, a program of arts and cultural events, and socio-cultural historical initiatives has been developed by UMSU and the University. These include:

  • Amplified, Redefined: Protest for Change exhibition: Curated by students, this exhibition presents the history of UMSU’s autonomous departments: Women’s, Queer, Indigenous, Disabilities and People of Colour.
  • 3010 magazine story: A request for alumni-submitted photographs depicting time spent in Union House, particularly time spent in the arts and cultural spaces, will be made via an article in the 3010 alumni magazine.
  • Outdoor Gallery exhibition—history of student union: Students from the Faculty of Arts will curate an exhibition celebrating the socio-historical imagery from Union House.
  • The Princess Ida Parlour—musical theatre performance: Restaging of ‘The Princess Ida Parlour’ by Anita Punton, originally directed Rosemary Myers. Production will be held in the Guild Theatre, Union House. The 2018 production will be directed by Petra Kalive and a new music score is currently being commissioned.
  • Union House Heritage Appraisal (2013): A report developed by architects and heritage consultants, Lovell Chen, to provide an assessment of the cultural heritage significance of Union House.
  • History of Melbourne University Student Union book: This history dates back to the emergence of the student union to the present day, detailing the significant social, cultural and political stories and chapters in the union’s history, and the legacies left from one generation to the next.
  • Union House focused design studios—exhibition: This exhibition will feature models by Melbourne School of Design students envisioning the union building’s past and future, with archival architectural images and blueprints from the Union House Rowden White Library and University archives.
  • Virtual reality documentation of Union House: Victorian College of the Arts honours students have been commissioned to document Union House with advice and guidance from lecturer Hans Van Rijnberk from Melbourne School of Design. 

 

For full details of the Union House recognition events, NSP Project information and FAQs please visit https://students.unimelb.edu.au/student-precinct.

To provide feedback on the current drafts of the University’s Campus Development Framework visit https://ourcampus.unimelb.edu.au/tellus

To access the UMSU Archives please visit www.umsu.unimelb.edu.au/studentlife/gallery/archives/