Mentone Grammar School – Year 9 Campus
The creation of a dedicated Year 9 campus within the boundaries of Mentone Grammar was prompted by the projected increase in student numbers and the desire to actively engage and challenge the Year 9 students in a creative and invigorating learning environment. The existing auditorium was chosen, and given new life, as the Greenways Year 9 Campus catering for 192 students and staff.
Kneeler Design Architects
Commendation Category 3: Renovation/Modernisation/Over $1m
63 Venice Street Mentone, Victoria 3194 Australia
Kneeler Design Pty Ltd Architects
The project’s aim was to complement the innovative Year 9 teaching programme with a dynamic and varied physical environment. Working closely with the school, a challenging brief was established and the volume of the existing hall proved to be an exciting starting point. The constraints of the concrete tiered seating, concrete block walls and close proximity to the site boundaries required a creative solution. The fluid approach to the design has resulted in multileveled learning spaces flowing from one
to another through a series of stairs, tiers, lifts and a bridge. The variety of spaces, from the sunken collaboration table and tiered discussion to discrete learning studios, give the flexibility to fit the space to the task at hand.
The Entry Studio and deck are complemented by a small commercial kitchen and student run cafe, part of the innovative teaching programme, catering to staff, students and the broader community. The Entry Studio is a space in flux, occupied by parents, students and staff with its use morphing between structured and social learning.
Furniture and treatment of the external spaces are integral to the design. The furniture chosen is varied and flexible to supplement the learning spaces and ranges from outdoor informal bean bags and cafe style seating to mobile desks and chairs. External learning decks linking to internal learning spaces all have a unique identity such as wet area learning, circular presentation/discussion, and the internal court being a central hub and light source. Further hard and soft landscaping enhance the social and learning experiences of the students.
Puncturing the existing building fabric allowed penetration of natural light and ventilation, and with careful planning the building has been reinvented as a permeable learning environment. Natural ventilation and light is enhanced through internal glazing, louvres and automated ventilation and lighting systems. The reuse of the hall, retaining features such as the parquetry floor and exposed block walls and the reuse of the stage timber were all considered in the environmental foot print of the project. Materials, other than those recycled, were carefully selected for their acoustic value and robust nature. Colour treatment to walls, floors and ceilings further define the spaces.
It was important to encourage ownership of the centre. The visible and accessible location of staff within the larger tiered space encourages ongoing interaction between staff and students. The views within the building create a sense of year level unity and enhance the sense of ownership. Integration of the teaching programme and the built form has resulted in an environment tailor made to engage the fourteen and fifteen year old occupants.