Horsham Special School New Campus
Kneeler Design Architects
Commendation Category 1: New Construction Entire New School
17 High Street North Horsham, VIC 3402 Australia
Kneeler Design Architects
The focus of the project is to enhance students’ independence and celebrate their diverse abilities. Establishment of Home Eco Facility adjacent to open café and sensory garden enables the school to invite the wider community in for functions. Central sensory courtyard provides a beautiful and safe environment for social interaction.
For a special school, it is important for the students’ safety that their access is controlled. However, we feel that the conventional access control via layers of fences and gates hinders students’ feeling of independence. Our solution is to wrap the building around a large central courtyard, allowing students to access it without the danger of exiting the site. There are no hidden corners in the courtyard, the teaching spaces surrounding the courtyard provides constant but discreet supervision.
The school focuses on delivering individualised education to students aged five to eighteen, with a wide variety of disabilities. This building is designed with a variety of active and passive learning and play spaces, indoors and out, to support the teachers in delivering such individualised and diverse curriculum. Tactile and visual features, such as the translucency of polycarbonate cladding, roughness of the earth wall, smoothness of the curved plasterboard wall, softness of the artificial grass floor, playfulness of the colour balls of light hung at different heights, rhythm of the stud work within the polycarbonate wall, subtle grey silhouettes of birds and flowers etched on windows, spark student’s imaginations.
Colours provide subtle cues to help students identify and orientate around the campus. At the entry, green carpet square patterns lead to the Classroom Wing, while orange carpet squares lead to the Multipurpose Room, bypassing staff & administration areas. Upon entering the student wing, the artificial grass circle in the café is inviting to sit on, while highlighting the presence of a post to discourage accidental collision. In that space, the eye is very quickly drawn to the brightly coloured canopies over the Home Eco facility, lovingly named ‘the master-chef kitchen’ by the school. The bright colours of the range hood canopy help the occupants identify each work bench. As we proceed towards the classrooms, a different colour strip of carpet protruding from under the doors gives each classroom its unique colour-code.