If you’ve been near RMIT, the State Library or Melbourne Central in the past year, you’ve noticed all the construction going on at the university.

Instead of forcing pedestrians to walk by an unsightly mess everyday, RMIT is turning parts of the construction site into a canvas for a new public art festival, Winter Blast.

From Wednesday August 24, 30 artists (each with an affiliation with the university) will present works in the form of wall projections, installations, 3D works, paintings, audio and live performance art.

The festival is an initiative by New Academic Street (NAS), the campus redevelopment project revitalising the area and creating new laneways and arcades – casuing all the construction in the first place.

“We’re taking advantage of a really unusual opportunity, which is to use the NAS construction-site footprint as a canvas for art,” says NAS project manager Di Cohen. “It opens up an opportunity for public art to be displayed in a really unconventional way. It’s also a platform for launching students’ careers – artists and students from other disciplines who want to see their art in a public arena.”

By its completion in 2017, the NAS project will have been home to 60 specifically commissioned works by students and alumni. Among other things, construction fencing will be covered with James Voller’s images of Carlton’s Victorian architecture; light projections will climb the 13-storey site; a “nasal-hair sculpture” will wave in the windiest bit of Franklin Street, mimicking breathing; and pink tape will be wrapped around the site tonight as part of a live performance to disrupt the typically hyper-male environment of a construction site.

In September endurance artist Shuichi Kori will sit for 24 hours at a desk on Swanston Street with an empty chair for you opposite. Although Kori was due to perform his piece tonight, a busted ankle means he has to wait until it’s healed.

Winter Blast is a free festival. It launches Wednesday August 24 from 5.30pm at RMIT’s Building 80. More information and RSVP here.

Light projections run until August 31, but public art works will be on display until the end of the year.