Brighton Grammar Middle School

Project Details

ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects


90 Outer Crescent Brighton , VIC 3186 Australia

Wayne Stephens


Dianna Snape

Project Overview

The Brighton Grammar Middle School represents a celebration of the School 's contemporary approach to education, shaping a pedagogically bespoke environment that enables diverse modes of teaching and learning. The design reflects the learning needs and nature of boys in their middle years and reinforces the Schools mission "We teach boys ".

Jury Citation:

Standing alongside a historic church hall the recently completed Brighton Grammar Middle School makes a bold statement.  Its imposing entrance sits directly on the streetscape and features soaring expanses of glass softened by the introduction of natural timber.  It is an inviting yet spectacular entry.

It leads you in to a light filled space which has a pleasing sense of height and scale.  ClarkeHopkinsClarke have taken full advantage of the opportunity to create a diverse and creative array of learning spaces.  The more formal seminar and teaching spaces give way to reading and withdrawal spaces; creative spaces where project and team work is promoted.

A sweeping timber staircase adds drama to the space and provides a central meeting point for students.  The extensive use of timber softens the interior and draws the eye to the upper story balconies and learning spaces.  It is an effective way to introduce a level of curiosity into the building.

The introduction of four learning communities breaks open the traditional teaching model and introduces a classroom setting where collaboration is king.  Spaces are generous with the architects allowing up to 50 percent more space than a traditional classroom setting in order to allow the boys plenty of room to move.  

The building blends seamlessly into the surrounding environment and the interplay between the classroom setting and the freedom to work and play outdoors is a highlight of this design.  In this way, the definition within spaces is further blurred with a stand out feature being the boys capacity to study botany on the first floor outdoor terrace garden.  Robust outdoor furniture features the use of timber, concrete and bluestone and these otherwise harsh building materials blend neatly into the landscape.

It is pleasing to see the emphasis that has been placed on environmentally sustainable design including: energy efficient lighting, a fully integrated building management system, natural ventilation-featuring the use of louvres and big ass fans as well as 60,000 litres of water storage.

The benefits of a lengthy consultation process are obvious with the project team successfully creating a creative, technology rich learning environment. 

A fully formed Masterplan, complemented by visits to exemplar projects and added depth through the input of educational consultant Brian Caldwell has paid off handsomely with the construction of a well thought out and flexible learning environment.

Architects ClarkeHopkinsClarke have certainly given expression to Brighton Grammar’s desire to “define what boys need to become successful young men.”

The design of Brighton Grammar School's new Middle School reinforces the School 's mission, 'we teach boys ' through providing a robust and iconic facility that supports the School's targeted approach to the diverse learning needs of boys in Years 7 and 8.

Situated to the edge of the most public corner of the site, the new Middle School features a clean, modernist exterior and striking, double height public entry to shape a welcoming interface with the street and to reinforce the School 's civic presence. Transparent sections to the exterior invite the gaze of the local community and promote engagement with the activities of the school.

The 6,060sqm new facility is planned around a central Nexus where the whole student community can come together. The learning environments have been designed as a series of four Learning Neighbourhoods, each accommodating 75 students, connected to and focused upon the Nexus. The learning commons are oversized to allow boys to move freely while they work as boys benefit greatly from having room to move. The pedagogically bespoke learning environments provide a variety of formal and informal learning spaces that are adaptable and agile to support diverse modes of teaching and learning. The learning spaces enable students to set up impermanent groups for discussion and problem solving and provide ease of access to technology and information to enhance cooperative learning.

Intended as a physical manifestation of the needs and nature of boys, the architectural expression of the Middle School is inherently masculine and modernist. It features wide circulation areas, robust, natural materials, and an abundance of natural light and ventilation. A sophisticated, minimalist approach to the interior design emphasises the physical presence of the architectural form and signals a move away from the childhood years of primary school into the adult world. The openness of the learning environment promotes a sense of community and encourages students to actively engage with their learning.

The new Middle School provides a dynamic new learning facility that nurtures collaboration, celebrates the student 's transition into secondary school and represents an innovative new direction for Brighton Grammar School.

This page last updated: Tuesday 26 May 2015

2015 Category 2 New Construction Major Facility