RMIT University – School of Architecture & Design – Breaking Down Barriers

Above: Breaking Down Barriers concept by Sharon Sclarr

We recently announced an exciting collaboration with RMIT University’s School of Architecture & Design. RMIT University students from the School of Architecture and Design (Interior Design Honors degree program) will work with 300 Blankets over the course of 2015 to design and construct a mobile structure that will provide shelter and provide opportunities for 300 Blanket volunteers to sit down with people experiencing homelessness to share a meal and invite conversation. Acknowledging the uncomfortably large isolation between people who are experiencing homelessness and the broader community, the proposed mobile structure aims to address this problem.

The RMIT University Interior Design Honors degree program has for many years encouraged their students to work on community based projects that design for the human scale in the urban environment. In this, the program has developed a strong track record for delivering successful ‘real-world’ projects for the community. For this project, students will work in partnership with 300 Blankets and volunteer with us. Then based upon this experience, designing and constructing an innovative structure that acts as a platform for breaking down social barriers. This experience will be an invaluable opportunity for these future designers to develop an ethically situated, user-centered design practice. It will also enable the students to investigate how designers can direct their design skills to act as agents of social change.



[Update: 23 April 2015]

StreetSmart Australia

We are thrilled to be a recipient of a StreetSmart Australia grant to bring the Breaking Down Barriers project to life. Announced on Monday, the $3000 grant from StreetSmart Australia will enable the RMIT students to build a the most suitable design and bring it to the streets of Melbourne. This is especially exciting for the students, giving them added confidence that the incredible work they are doing will make a difference in the homeless and disadvantaged communities in Melbourne. We would like to take this opportunity to thank StreetSmart Australia for acknowledging the change 300 Blankets together with RMIT University would like to make in the community.


[Update: 24 June 2015]

Final Presentations

We recently attended the final student presentations for the Breaking Down Barriers – RMIT Interior Designs project. The level of professionalism, creativity, and thoughtfulness in creating a realistic solution to the challenge was breathtaking. In the 12 weeks, the RMIT students went from having little exposure to the challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness, to having volunteered with the Vinnies Soup Van and creating working blueprints which could be developed into a real life solution.

The ideas to create community and breaking down the barriers of social stigmas often associated with homelessness was the core message. We saw bicycles that could transform into a public dining area, a portable cart that opens up into an inviting community structure, to an environmentally friendly DIY solution to creating shelter for people sleeping rough. The quality of work was incredible.

When we first started the project with RMIT, we were not sure where it would lead. Having seen the first half of the project, we feel so honoured to be working with such talents. In the second half of this year, we will be working with a new class of students where they will select one of the projects and bring it to life. We can’t wait to see what will come of this project.

[Update: 22 July 2015]

Semester 2

Today we presented to the students in the RMIT Design subject who will bring this project to life. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the talented and compassionate students and look forward to seeing the first draft in a few weeks.

300 Blankets RMIT Breaking Down Barriers

[Update: 14 October 2015]

Final Presentation

Today we were invited to the final presentation of the year long project with RMIT. This semester, students again came out with 300 Blankets on our Street Outreach and as guests on the St Vincent de Paul Society Soup Vans to get exposure to the environment where we volunteer. Through heavy consultation and countless hours of study and research, to find a solution to the challenge of breaking down barriers and creating community, the incredibly talented and dedicated students finalised on their work created an wonderful product.

The final product created by the students was a set of mobile, highly durable tables, chairs and shelter. These unique products were created with the intension of having both the longevity and usability for our outreach services and also to show a sense of design and fashionability. When we engage with people through our outreach, one of our key missions is to show care, compassion and boost self esteem. These beautifully crafted elements will encourage community and the quality of the products will highlight self worth.

The students have done a wonderful job with the challenge of breaking down barriers. Well done.

Once the furniture is presented to 300 Blankets, they will be used through our outreach programs and with our partners in building community.

Project leader:
Caroline Vains
School of Architecture & Design (Interior Design program)
RMIT University,
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Project construction:
Nicholas Visser
Make Yourself at Home
0404 991 798
318a Smith Street, Collingwood 3066

Semester One students:
Yanni Guo
Tanika Karacsay
Monica Knoll
Tanja Lustenberger
Amanda Ng
Timothy Percy
Sharon Sclarr
Sarah Shearman
Kaitlin Butcher-Hawkins
Georgina Dawson

Semester Two Students:
Emily Spellmire
Sofia Rajan
Timothy Quirk
Sarah Andersson
Michael Urwin
Yuying Li
Junli Zhang
Chuyao Zhou
Yongyou Zhu
Khanh Ho
Michael Kuo
Alice Maszczyszn
Linh Tran
Alexandra Voelmle
Jianyu Chen


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