Arts and Cultural Building

The Arts and Cultural Building is a vibrant cultural hub and the new home to the University’s iconic Union and Guild Theatres.

Arts and Cultral Building building

Just in time for semester 2, the Student Precinct Project welcomes its second new building – the Arts and Cultural Building.

Hosting an array of informal study spaces, UMSU’s George Paton Gallery and Arts Lab, and buzzing food outlets, the Arts and Cultural Building promotes connectedness through arts, culture and music.

Co-created with students, for students, the Student Precinct Project has seen over 20,000 students and staff actively contributing their views, ideas and expertise to inform the planning and design process.

Through the voices of co-creation, we’ve heard from people with a disability about inequitable arts experiences, both onstage and in the audience. The Arts and Cultural Building is designed to support inclusion, setting a new benchmark for theatre spaces that aim to deliver a truly welcoming and inclusive experience for all.

With artwork cleverly intertwined within the building’s structure and form, the Arts and Cultural Building celebrates the University’s rich cultural history from the ground up.

The building is also on track to receive a 6-Star Green Star building accreditation, reflecting the importance of sustainability in all aspects of University life, and aligns to the University’s sustainability ambitions.

The Student Precinct Project will be completed at the end of 2022, encompassing seven new or refurbished buildings and extensive landscaping that will have a transformative impact on the campus experience.

View the Arts and Cultural Building image gallery

Theatre seating inside Union Theatre


The Arts and Cultural Building is home to two world-class theatre spaces: The Guild Theatre and the Union Theatre.

The Guild Theatre is a 102-seat black box theatre, offering a flexible performance space for a variety of productions, configurations and audience immersion.

The Union Theatre, a 398-seat proscenium arch theatre complete with orchestra pit and fly tower, is a showstopper in its own right. Towering 50 meters high, it’s the only theatre across all University campuses with a fly tower allowing our student theatre productions to shine.

Theatre bar


The Arts and Cultural Building will offer a full array of take-away and dine-in options for those who fancy dinner and a show. Check out the places opening their doors in the coming weeks:

> Theatre Bar
The conversation-starter ceiling to the Theatre Bar cannot be missed! And with welcoming balconies to enjoy a mid-show drink, intermission never looked so good.

> COSMOS by ST. Ali
This new venture from ST.ALi promises pizzas to perfection. Stay tuned for more info.

> ST. ALi Coffee Melbourne born and bred, ST. ALi roast their ethically and sustainably sourced coffee in-house offering expert coffee brewing, and best-in-category food.

> Gong chaThe bubble tea masters. Offering freshly prepared bubble tea, Gong cha is the fastest growing tea brand in Asia with over 1500 stores worldwide.

> Campus  General Store
Your one-stop shop.
Offering grab-and-go food and drinks, ready-to-heat meals, stationary, everyday items and even dry-cleaning services.

A&C dressing rooms

Inclusive spaces welcoming places

As the University’s first fully co-created major project, inclusivity and accessibility have been key pillars underpinning the design and development of the Student Precinct Project.

In the Arts and Cultural Building, this looks like:

  • Provision of equal access to dressing rooms, stage, orchestra pit, control room, crying room, and all sound-mix positions in both the Union and Guild Theatres
  • Wheelchair access being provided by elevators or shorter ‘jump lifts’ (not stair lifts) in all areas
  • Accessible bathrooms in dressing rooms
  • Provision of variable height seating and service areas in theatre foyers
  • Visual cue light system to dressing rooms and green room for performers who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

Ongoing co-creation and user feedback will support the spaces to develop inclusive operational practices to ensure equitable arts experiences for all.

Carpet design Artwork integration: Carpet design

The building is adorned by a carpet of artwork designed by Victorian College of the Arts alumna Dr Ngardarb Riches. A descendant and Elder of the Bardi Jawi and Karajarri from the West Kimberley, Ngardarb takes the Dreaming Story of the Seven Sisters and uses colour variation across the building to reference land, sea and sky across ascending building levels.

The pre-colonial history of the site is acknowledged through the colour palette of the artwork, which draws upon the ochre of the Welcome Ground, and blue of the water narrative. With close consultation and input from the site’s Traditional Owners, the artwork encourages connection and engagement.

Artwork integration: Acoustic panels

Iconic images from the University Archives have been reworked into acoustic panels featured in the building’s theatres.

The Guild Theatre panels feature alumna Anchuli Felicia King, an internationally heralded multi-disciplinary theatre artist with a vibrant career, who honed her skills through involvement in student theatre at the University.

The Union Theatre panels feature D-Generation, an innovative and irreverent group who had long lasting impact on Melbourne popular culture through their ten-part comedy series on ABC TV. The D-Generation had their start at the University of Melbourne before swiftly ascending to great career heights, providing inspiration for the next generation of budding performers.

UMSU’s George Paton Gallery

The UMSU George Paton Gallery (GPG) is the jewel in UMSU's crown for student artists to exhibit their works and get involved with exhibition practice. Students from all disciplines are invited to participate in the GPG annual exhibition program and opening events. GPG is the place to seek mentorship, support and opportunities as a student artist or curator.

Find out more

UMSU's Art Lab

UMSU Arts Lab is the place you can easel (heh) on into your next splash of creative genius! Equipped with huge, movable tables, the aforementioned easels and heaps of other art supplies, UMSU Arts Lab is open to all. Retreat into the warm, arty embrace solo or as a group and escape from the hustle of uni life. This is the place to participate in immersive and creative workshops run by a diverse range of artists and makers.

Find out more

UMSU’s theatre and performance program (Union House Theatre)

UMSU’s Union House Theatre (UHT) is the place to experience everything student theatre can be on campus. UHT offers students a taste of theatre practice through productions, performances, masterclasses and other interactive events for anyone who wants to have some theatrical fun. UHT’s staff are all industry professionals who are passionate about providing opportunities for development for student playwrights, directors, performers, designers and technicians (and has done since way back in ’69!).

Round me view of the Arts and Cultural Building ground level.