With more than 90,000 additional students forecast to enter Victorian schools in the next five years, the State has taken action – undertaking the most ambitious school building program in its history.
THE Victorian State Government has committed $2.5 billion towards school infrastructure projects in the last three years to deliver 56 new school projects and 10 new tech schools.
The State currently educates almost one million students across 2241 government, independent and Catholic schools, with enrolment numbers growing by the day.
“Victoria is the fastest growing State in the country – that’s why we’re investing more than any Government in Victoria’s history in our schools,” State Education minister James Merlino said.
“We’re building the schools the State needs, providing record funding and ensuring our education system grows as Victoria does – so our kids get the best start in life, wherever they live.”
In 2016, the Government formed the Victorian School Building Authority to oversee the design and construction of new schools, early childhood centres and renovations of existing infrastructure. Each of these projects will be architecturally designed, and built in partnership with the school community and principal, drawing inspiration from the latest school design trends to prepare schools for the years ahead.
“The schools our kids will be using in a decade will look very different to the schools of our childhood,” Mr Merlino said.
“Plans for vertical schools have been designed to maximise space, and provide outdoor spaces and opportunities for students to engage with nature.
“As well as building and reforming schools, we are transforming neighbourhoods by including sport, cultural and other facilities that can be shared with the wider community.”
Hayball director Richard Leonard, an architect tasked with designing some of the State’s new schools, said the Government’s investment was a “very significant commitment” to deal with the back-log in new facilities required and upgrading existing stock.
“The regular upgrading of schools is a critical Government policy, particularly at a time in this sector where new models of education demand different spatial responses,” Mr Leonard said.
“Put simply, the old classroom model just doesn’t ‘cut it’ in the modern education environment.
“It was a superb piece of design for the industrial era, but in this, the Knowledge Era, we’ve progressed to very different learning landscape.
“We still need some classrooms, but we also require many more types of teaching and learning spaces.”
Projects in focus
Beaumaris Secondary College
Designed by ClarkeHopkinsClarke and built by Ireland Brown Constructions, the Beaumaris Secondary College will open in 2018 and cater for 650 Year 7 to 12 students.
The school will include first-class sporting facilities built in partnership with Melbourne Cricket Club, which will be shared by the club, college and wider community.
South Melbourne Primary School
Arguably the most ‘talked about’ school opening in Victoria, South Melbourne Primary School is the State’s first Government vertical school, due to open in 2018.
Designed by Hayball and built by ADCO Construction, the state-of-the-art pre-primary to Year 6 School is located on Ferrars Street in South Melbourne.
The school has already received international recognition, snapping up the Best Future School and the Best Future Project awards at the 2016 World Architecture Festival in Berlin.
The campus follows an ‘integrated model’, offering community facilities such as meeting rooms, a maternal and child health facility, gym for competition-grade indoor sports, and early learning centre.
It also borrows city facilities such as museums, galleries, markets and open spaces.
Richmond High School
Also designed by Hayball, Richmond High School was another vertical school opening its doors in 2018 within the heart of Richmond.
“The new Richmond High School shares some of the DNA of South Melbourne, being designed to offer a community contribution within its dense inner-urban area,” Hayball director Mr Leonard said.
The school is being built by McCorkell Constructions, and once complete will cater for 650 Year 7-12 students across two sites.
The first site on Griffiths street will be home to a striking academic precinct, while an adjacent multipurpose facility on Gleadell Street will include general purpose teaching spaces, community facilities and four competition-grade netball courts.
Whittlesea Tech School
Whittlesea is one of the 10 tech schools opening under the State Government’s Tech Schools program.
Designed by ClarkeHopkinsClarke, the school will be located at Melbourne Polytechnic’s Epping Campus, and be a shared learning centre for secondary students from 13 partner schools to access immersive programs that support the link between high school STEM studies and industry.
“Whittlesea Tech School will push the boundaries around the traditional tech school, and
mainstream schools more generally,” ClarkeHopkinsClarke partner Simon Le Nepveu said.
“The school includes a large gallery space which showcases different areas of work, including a theatrette and amphitheatre for large cohorts to come together, a dedicated space curated by industry partners so they can interact with students through displays and exhibitions and experimentation spaces for different technical activities, as well as numerous informal break out areas.”
Ivanhoe Grammar – Year 9 Centre
A renovation of The Terraces at Mont Park, Ivanhoe Grammar’s new Year 9 Centre celebrates the fabric of the heritage listed building, while welcoming modern design trends and pedagogies.
The building was previously used as a mental hospital, and was later gifted to La Trobe University, but had been unused for the last 30 years.
The new Year 9 Centre, designed by McIldowie Partners, will bring the building back to life and comprise 12 classrooms over four levels, with large breakout spaces.
Specialist classes for science and art will take place at the adjoining La Trobe University.
Construction was completed at the project in September.