Surf Coast Secondary College

Project Details

Architects
dwp|suters

Award
Commendation: Category 1 (Entire new facility)

Address
75 White Street, Torquay, VIC 3228

Submitter
dwp|suters

Cost
$25.2 million

Photographer
Emma Cross Photographer

Project Overview

dwp|suters has designed this new 8,000sqm Secondary College for 925 students with distinct middle and senior schools; and an indoor sports facility with shared community use. The new College serves the rapidly growing coastal population of Torquay, Victoria. Responding to a brief that requires the new school be a cohesive community precinct; we have created an innovative educational facility and a neighbourhood focal point.

Imaginative planning of the teaching and learning spaces supports the College’s pedagogical model of ‘flipped learning’. Spatial flexibility is maximised in general and specialist spaces to allow different modes of independant learning to concurrently occur effectively and efficiently. Innovative space planning with emphasis on connectivity allows students to develop their conceptual understanding as well as procedural skills and fluency across many subjects.

Design solutions are driven by the ideas and aspirations articulated in the educational specification, rather an imposed design ideology. The functional layout of the school responds directly to the desire of the original planning group to have Middle Years (7-9) and Later Years(10-12) buildings. The design of the learning spaces is specifically informed by the educational needs of cohorts using them; and can respond effectively to changing educational programs.

The building design balances the constraints of the natural topography and the demands of the education planning. Positioned on an elevated, sloping site facing southwest overlooking Bass Strait, the built form is designed to create shelter from prevailing coastal winds. The building bends and wraps; creating a conceptual series of built ‘hedgerows’ that generate spaces suitable for year round outdoor learning and play that would otherwise have been impossible. External covered ways merged with the buildings to provide sheltered external learning spaces adjacent to most classrooms.The character of Surf Coast inspires the materiality and colours, referencing coastal surrounds and the vernacular architecture. Tough, durable materials suitable for harsh coastal conditions are selected for long term
performance.

Communication of environmental responsibility to the student population is a key education focus. Natural water treatment detention ponds are a tool to educate appreciation of wetland ecosystems and provide students with hands-on experience. The adjacent Coastal Environment studio for environmental and marine science education further facilitates student investigations.

The College is designed for passive thermal comfort in Torquay’s temperate, windswept climate. Energy efficient design is supported by a school-wide energy monitoring system with prominent display of real-time energy and water usage. The central courtyard has operable glazed entries to allow control and mitigation of wind, creating shelter or boosting airflow on hot days. Clerestory high-level windows provide quality natural light and ventilation. Linked to Co2 sensors, they also act as thermal chimneys providing cross-ventilation and night-purging. Sustainable design together with wetland systems create a holistic educational environment where the building not only performs well but simultaneously provides tools to educate students. Eschewing fencing, the parklike landscaping creates a welcoming, civic space for community use. Increased permeability of the facility is balanced by security needs; access to some external spaces is flexible to provide security when the school is closed.

This page last updated: Tuesday 25 November 2014