12 June, 2018 Academic

University of Melbourne Architecture students generate ‘STEAM’

Students from The University of Melbourne’s Master of Architecture course recently presented their final projects for the semester – envisioning Frank Woods House as a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) facility – at St Michael’s Grammar School on 5 June 2018.

University of Melbourne Architecture students generate ‘STEAM’ Introductions by Mr Michael Roper (OM 1997) for final project presentations, in Wilma Hannah Hall.

Old Michaelian (1997) and University of Melbourne Lecturer, Michael Roper, approached the School in January looking for a real-world brief for his students. ‘My philosophy has always been, write about what you know and design what you know,’ said Mr Roper.

‘Students don’t often dive into the use of the architectural space in concrete ways; rather the abstract way. The fact that the students all went to a school and sat in classrooms, I was interested in drawing the parallels from that personal experience within the project, to inspire real design and thinking processes.’

Director of Business, Mr Farai Mufuka, discussed what the needs of the School were with Mr Roper to effectively create a real-world brief. ‘The education space is continuously evolving and one of the things we are focusing on is how we can integrate STEAM into our facilities,’ said Mr Mufuka. ‘By looking at our existing fabric to see how this could be achieved, the foundation of the project brief was created.’

University of Melbourne Architecture students generate ‘STEAM’ University of Melbourne student, Kayla, presenting her final project.

We needed to maintain the appearance of the building, therefore, it was difficult to identify the materials to illustrate the overall appearance. It was, though, extremely helpful to have St Michael’s students provide us with valuable feedback, such as, what specific spaces are used for and disabled access areas, when we presented our mid-semester research.

Miss Hao Feng, University of Melbourne student


The choice of Frank Woods House presented a challenge for students, as the building has a heritage overlay and is separated from the School’s main campus by a Victorian laneway. Students also had to discover ways to navigate the site constraints and connect the building to the Allan Pizzey Building.  Miss Hao Feng, agreed that the heritage element produced one of the main challenges to the project.

University of Melbourne Architecture students generate ‘STEAM’ Years 6-9 students listening to University of Melbourne Master of Architecture students present their mid-semester project research.

Head of the School, Mrs Terrie Jones, emphasised the long-term significance of the collaboration between St Michael’s and University of Melbourne students. ‘It was incredibly compelling for our design students to witness the high calibre of the concepts, designs and drawings presented,’ said Mrs Jones.

Although the School is not currently planning a redevelopment of Frank Woods House, this collaboration has helped the School imagine future possibilities. ‘There were some ideas from projects that I could never have envisioned for our facilities, and it’s definitely provided us with inspiration that we can work from with our architects and interior designers to optimise the current state of our facilities,’ said Mr Mufuka.

We look forward to continuing to explore opportunities to work with The University of Melbourne in reciprocally beneficial ways.