Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences

Project Details

ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects


77 Story Street Parkville , VIC 3052 Australia

Wayne Stephens


Dianna Snape

Project Overview

The Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences provides a unique tertiary-style learning environment, tailored to support VCE students pursuing a science and mathematics rich curriculum and is designed to enable collaboration and resource sharing between University High School and The University of Melbourne.

Jury Citation:

The Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences initiative has enabled Clarke Hopkins Clarke to incorporate a new science rich learning environment for talented senior secondary students on the campus of the University of Melbourne and University High School. It provides excellent transition opportunities between school , tertiary studies and research.

Thorough and well documented planning and consultation resulted in strong working relationships that enabled the realization of a design reflective of the school’s vision, the integration of the geo thermal energy system and the successful resolution of design heritage requirements.

The provision of a variety of spaces responds to the diverse needs of students to collaborate or work alone, to work inside the building or use the effectively linked outdoor spaces. The colour palette and furnishings are comfortable, functional and support the mature approach to learning.

Clarke Hopkins Clarke are to be congratulated on their inclusive and collaborative approach to design that has culminated in highly desirable spaces for students to follow their passions.

The Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences is designed to support diverse modes of teaching and learning across all of the sciences for 200 University High School students in Years 11 and 12. Developed via a collaborative partnership between University High School, The University of Melbourne, Bio21 Institute, Melbourne Graduate School of Education and the Melbourne School of Engineering, this 1,400sqm facility provides student with a unique tertiary-style learning environment.

This facility sits at the nexus of secondary education, tertiary education and tertiary research, not only providing the space and resources to pursue education within mathematics and science but encouraging student exploration and peer driven development.

An extensive planning process was undertaken with The University High School, The University of Melbourne and The Bio21 Institute to develop a curriculum, learning environment and pedagogy that exposes students to the foremost discoveries and innovations, and facilitates tertiary research and understanding of learning methodologies.

Located in Melbourne 's premier science precinct and in close proximity to significant heritage listed structures, the School was designed to respect and respond to the historical context whilst referencing the science focus through materiality and form. The building captures the advantages of the site 's northerly aspect through the introduction of a double-height, glazed void space that connects the ground and first floors, and ensures communal spaces are awash with natural light. Characterised by strong geometric forms, quirky design features, and dedicated facilities to support the School 's unique pedagogical approach as the building acts as a physical 'text book ', guiding the learning experiences within. The facility also supports teacher 's continual learning and development through the integration of a video recording system that records classes to better understand teaching methods that are most effective, allowing teachers and Master students to utilise the school as a pedagogical laboratory.

The project attracted a government pilot program grant for development of a direct geothermal energy system. Utilising the grant, the architectural design team collaborated with the system designers from The University of Melbourne 's Faculty of Engineering to integrate the direct geothermal energy system within the building. This system maintains the air temperature at a suitable level in all seasons and as a result, minimal additional artificial heating and cooling is required amounting in huge savings for the operation of the building, and reducing the buildings running costs by an estimated 96%.

This page last updated: Tuesday 26 May 2015