RMIT PlaceLab - Cycle 01 Research Projects

New kids on the block. Research goes hyper-local as RMIT PlaceLab moves into Brunswick.

Brunswick’s newest tenant might look like a chic design space or boutique architecture firm from the outside, but step inside and you’ll find a team of university researchers working alongside the community in a shopfront research studio in the heart of the inner north.

Nestled beneath the Jewell Station apartments on Union Street, RMIT PlaceLab will connect researchers with community members and local organisations to identify community needs, champion community ideas and address urban challenges and opportunities.

RMIT PlaceLab is situated on the ground floor of Neometro's 17 Union Street within Jewell Station Village. Photography Derek Swalwell.

RMIT PlaceLab Co-Lead Brock Hogan said RMIT PlaceLab was taking a radically different approach to research, by making it inclusive, fast-paced and hyper-local to achieve real and timely impact.

“RMIT is taking a fresh approach to doing research, one that’s collaborative and informed by the people who know their neighbourhoods best,” he said.

“The aim of RMIT PlaceLab is to facilitate research to strengthen Brunswick’s liveable, adaptive, and inclusive future. Conducting collaborative, ‘bite-sized’ research projects with the community that are locally relevant with immediate application and impact,” he said.

Designed as a flexible space for community engagement and research, RMIT PlaceLab will hold events, public forums, workshops, artist residencies, student symposia and exhibitions.

A communal dinner in Brunswick. Image: Kate Longley, Nightingale Housing.

The Brunswick research studio is the first RMIT PlaceLab to open its doors to the local community, with a second site in Melbourne set to open in the coming weeks. Research outcomes will focus on building the district’s culture of design and creativity, driving urban innovation, liveability, and creative and economic opportunity.

Research out of the Melbourne studio will be used to help shape the new Social Innovation Precinct, north of Melbourne’s CBD. Research outcomes will focus on reimagining the precinct and building on RMIT’s social innovation across health, justice, social sciences, vocational training, urban planning, and global studies.

Delivered together with local government and other partners, including the Brunswick Design District, RMIT PlaceLab will support the creation of new ideas, partnerships and systems that foster positive community impact.

In the studio as part of PlaceLab’s Creatives, Communities & Economies initiative. Image: The Social Studio and Grace McQuilten.

“RMIT PlaceLab aims to cultivate a platform of civic participation and knowledge sharing by connecting locals, both in Brunswick and in Melbourne city, to RMIT’s rich ecosystem of specialist academics and local government partners,” Delly said.

Two projects are already underway in Brunswick, exploring socially sustainable housing and how local creatives are responding to the challenges facing the arts.

PlaceLab Melbourne’s two projects are looking into how Melbourne can be a more welcoming and inclusive city for international students, and creative methods for community input into future city planning.

Sydney Road, Photography by Agnieszka Chabros.

There are a range of ways to get involved in RMIT PlaceLab. Those interested are encouraged to connect online via the website, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Read about Cycle 02 here.