Dandenong South Primary School Junior Learning Centre
The Panel believes that this project interprets and embodies the objectives of the School in an outstanding manner. Dandenong Primary School has an enrolment of about 630 of a wide diversity of ethnic backgrounds.
The School provision of a Gymnasium facility through the Building the Education Revolution enabled the School to use the old gymnasium for a limited range of facilities such as parent operated preschool playgroups and Breakfast Club together with various other activities.
The challenge for Hayball Architects was to transform a large volume, characterless space into a stimulating functional learning environment for the youngest primary students. The challenge was also to change the exterior appearance of the building and eliminate the look of a gymnasium.
The Architects investigated the opportunities to repurpose and revision the building to provide for the growing enrolment of the Junior School and to enable the School leadership to deliver a ‘contemporary, progressive teaching and learning model’.
The Architects led strategic and educational briefing sessions with senior leadership considering the inclusion of well-being principles, the development the spirit of a junior cohort while extending to the wider school and parent community integration.
The transformation of the building from an expansive gymnasium into a series of intimate learning spaces is conceptually and physically impressive. The architects have distanced the building from its previous life and created a welcoming learning space on a scale befitting the junior years community; homely and inclusive. Visual and pedestrian connections with the external space has been sensitively achieved.
The handling of the acoustics, heating, cooling and natural light have all been successfully achieved. Internally the requirement for visual surveillance works well using a ‘buildings within a building’ approach all below the roofline allows intimate spaces while diminishing the overwhelming volume. Home bases, specialist spaces, cubby spaces all work to introduce young people into a stimulating learning environment.
The Panel considers Dandenong South Primary School – Junior School to be a very worth winner delivering an interesting, versatile, functional school facility. The scope delivered for the funds available is impressive also. The Principal sums up the project well – “’The spaces create an environment reflecting modern teaching practice that allows students flexibility in the way they learn as well as flexibility for teachers in the way they teach” and “a highly engaging and beautiful space to work in”.
Winner Category 4 Renovation/Modernisation Under $2m
52 Kirkham Road Dandenong VIC 3175
Emily Bartlett Photography
The challenge for this project was to re-vision and refurbish an existing gym building to become a progressive, multifunctional year level centre initially for Grades 1- 2, but designed to be adaptable for other year levels, up to Year 6.
The Junior Learning Centre has been designed to respond and adapt to changes in curriculum and pedagogy over time, with minimal impact on building fabric. Key elements in achieving these aims include: Home bases, each accommodating 50 students provide a series of differentiated yet linked spaces, allowing for a wide range of student-to-teacher groupings across the school day, ranging from whole year level gatherings and presentations within the tired seating spaces, general learning studios to house more traditional class size groups, through to small & individual study settings and nooks. Spatial planning of the centre deliberately locates home group general learning and gathering spaces to either side of the building, with the central north-south spine enriched with more specialist spaces, all visually connected and easily accessible. Students and staff can move easily between spaces, accessing resources and facilities to support current activities, and the adaptable nature of spaces within the facility allows the school to structure the learning community within various neighbourhood groupings. Internal fitout elements sit below the overall roof structure of the space, and internal building services are exposed above, enabling future changes to the interior fitout of the centre without significant architectural, services or cost impact. Specialist spaces, including year level specific library resources and reading lounge, drama and media presentation, creative wet and messy enabled indoor/outdoor workshop, kitchen spaces for low level food tech, all support cross disciplinary learning, whilst wireless technology and mobile AV equipment support learning anywhere anytime.
The spaces create an environment reflecting modern teaching practice that allows students flexibility in the way they learn as well as flexibility for teachers in the way they teach. The stylish design utilised natural light and easy transition between the indoor and outdoor learning areas, enabling a range of learning styles to be accommodated simultaneously. Independent study, small group and teacher led explicit teaching areas assist teachers to cater for individual differences. The high level quality of the finished spaces has created a quiet, well insulated learning environment. The community areas and kitchen facilitate out of school hours programs, which the school provides, in a welcoming stylish environment. The Learning Centre is a functional, highly engaging and a beautiful space to work in. The design features are striking, and have engendered a great sense of pride across the school.