Essex Heights Primary School

Project Details

K2LD Architects Pty Ltd

Tisha Lee


Jonathan Wherrett

Project Overview

A primary school redevelopment that provides a unique educational setting in which Special Needs and mainstream children co-exist in a flexible, sensitive and sustainable environment. The project focuses in the principles of unity and individuality, which are enforced in the physical learning environment both internally and externally.

Located in the metropolitan suburb of Mount Waverley, Essex Heights Primary School was a unique opportunity to create learning environments that can unify mainstream and special needs children together in the same spaces. At present 10 – 15% of the school population is comprised of Special Needs children who have been drawn to the school by its highly inclusive philosophy.

The design process sought to restore a heart to the precinct, bringing the school together around a central 'watering hole '. In physical form, a circular and entirely accessible colonnade flanks an outdoor amphitheatre uniting all Learning Communities, each of which has been designed to engage 150 students in a variety of learning modalities. Within each Learning Community homerooms are co-joined with semi-transparent sliding walls and united by a collaborative space housing wet areas and resource facilities. Colour and texture have also been employed throughout to provide identity to each building. The orientation and volumetric form of the buildings increases and also controls natural light and ventilation into the buildings, ensuring a comfortable and well-lit environment with minimal reliance on mechanical heating/cooling.

Whilst the physical transformation is immediately evident, it is the spiritual and emotional transformation that has been of greatest celebration in this redeveloped facility. As designers, we were concerned during the planning process of the ability for Special Needs children to learn and function comfortably in the new environment. 24 months later, this is a place where all children continue to be accepted and loved. A place where together all children thrive academically and socially, and a place for which the Essex Heights Community has a sense of pride.

This page last updated: Tuesday 26 May 2015