Birralee Primary School

Project Details

Architects
Kerstin Thompson Architects

Address
8-27 Heyington Avenue Doncaster, Victoria 3108 Australia

Submitter
Maria Larkins

Cost
$3M

Photographer
Derek Swalwell

Project Overview

Birralee Primary School is testament to what architecture can do to enhance the enjoyment of the day-to-day activities of a school community. This project strategically re-configures a 1960’s LTC to create a more delightful sequence of indoor and outdoor play and learning spaces and a vibrant new street presence.

Birralee Primary School is testament to what architecture can do to enhance the enjoyment of the day-to-day activities of a school community. This project strategically reconfigures a 1960’s LTC to create a more delightful sequence of indoor and outdoor play/learning spaces and a vibrant new street presence. A limited budget demanded design precision in choosing what to add, adapt and retain to improve the overall experience for students, teachers and parents.

The initial brief included a requirement to create an architectural address to the street in preference to the toilet block which had been the original face to the street. A new reception/administration building located at the west end of the existing building now defines a new school entrance and presents a modern and innovative face to the community.

A further challenge of the design brief was to create flexible teaching and learning spaces to allow improved pedagogical practice. As a Spalding school, the literacy program depends on the capacity to close classrooms whilst students focus as a group on the explicit teaching of phonograms and grammar rules. The challenge was to provide classrooms and other areas for this age level to work together - and also to open the spaces to wider, break-out areas.

The existing LTC building was divided into single level classroom clusters, linked by a new external verandah. Each cluster was re-configured to accommodate enlarged classrooms and shared collaborative learning, back racks, wet areas and quieter withdrawal spaces. Low level and highlight windows provide visual and spatial connections between the spaces.

Entries to the classrooms are offset and pin-wheeled off the communal spaces with large sliding doors which can be closed down for phonex teaching or opened up for shared activities. The northern classrooms and collaborative learning spaces have direct access to the verandah for outdoor learning. The verandah also introduces ramps which provide universal access to the existing multi-level building.

With larger classrooms and break-out areas, teachers and aides have the necessary spaces for groups with much improved capacity for student concentration and focus.

The transformation has been embraced by parents, teachers and especially, students.

This page last updated: Thursday 3 April 2014