Fairhills Primary School
Minx Architecture Pty Ltd
Manuka Drive Ferntree Gully , Victoria 3156 Australia
Mark Ashkanasy, Minx Architecture
The project at Fairhills Primary School involved an upgrade to the whole school. Extensive consultation, consideration of developing pedagogy and re-purposing of existing buildings has provided flexible teaching spaces to accommodate learners with wide ranging abilities. A limited budget applied strategically has resulted in a contemporary and vibrant learning environment.
During the 1960 ‘s in Victoria, a light timber framed construction school template was rolled out to meet the demand created by the children of baby boomers. Known as LTC ‘s, these buildings exist throughout the suburbs of Melbourne and have provided for the state education needs of Victorian children for the past 50 years. The LTC ‘s provide traditional cellular teaching spaces of 52m2, with a low central corridor and are oriented east-west with windows to the north and south elevations.
Today ‘s challenge is to repurpose these facilities to accommodate more flexible practice, allow better access to outdoor learning opportunities and at the same time to provide for children with disabilities and special needs.
The design at Fairhills Primary School was realised in the creation of “The Core “. This concept embodied both the educational and physical solution to the limitations of the existing buildings. The Core breaks through the existing longitudinal wings, linking all of the learning spaces and bursting through the fa çade to create a new identity for the school at the new administration area and entry point.
This new addition demonstrates the renewed pedagogy within. “The Core ” houses a variety of collaborative spaces, including presentation, project and resource activity areas. It provides opportunity for teaching, learning and community use, and is supported by the outdoor learning decks that open off The Core and connect back to the learning neighbourhoods.
The four refurbished learning neighbourhoods connect at all levels to “The Core ” of the school. Each of these neighbourhoods provide think tank spaces, small pod areas, instructional zones and large collaborative spaces, to cater for a variety of learning and teaching styles. Connected withdrawal teaching space is provided in one of the neighbourhoods for autistic students, enabling their integration in to mainstream schooling.
As well as physically linking the spaces, “The Core ” reflects the teaching and learning ideals of the school. Connected, accessible, collaborative and IT rich practice is supported by the facility. With innovative and lateral thinking, the design and education teams have worked together to recycle a building, refreshing the learning spaces of past decades to embrace current pedagogy.