Inside Australia's first STEM Centre in a public school

Published: Monday 5 June 2017

An impressive crowd of architects and educators gathered for the latest Learning Environments WA Chapter Site Tour, a sign that STEM Education is of particular focus for many in WA as it is nationally and internationally.

STEM Education stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and is the title given to the cross-disciplinary education model striving to create graduates equipped with the necessary skills to drive innovation and economic growth.

The Cecil Andrews College STEM Centre in Seville Grove, designed by Gresley Abas Architects, offers an exciting future for the College; as Australia's first STEM Centre in a public school, the $4.5 million project is seen by the Principal Stella Jinman as both an incredible privilege and opportunity for students to engage in STEM subjects in new ways which will provide essential job ready skills.

Set within the Cecil Andrews College Campus, the new STEM facility takes centre stage as you make your approach onto the school grounds. The new centre offers an exciting future for the College; seen by the Principal as both an incredible privilege and opportunity for students to engage in STEM subjects in new ways which will provide essential job ready skills.
From the bold and bright exposed steelwork to the geometric interplay of coloured facade panels, the building stands as a vibrant, carefully detailed addition to the existing building fabric.

Once inside, the overall arrangement of spaces is immediately evident. Beyond the entry foyer, which also serves as an informal hub, are the Engineering & Science Studios and the Lecture Theatre. Each of these learning spaces is visually connected by large areas of glazing. This visual connection becomes a physical one, as glazed operable walls are opened to demonstrate the flexibility of these spaces. The result is a series of interconnected spaces, which provides a myriad of possibilities in which to be inspired to problem create and problem solve.

The interior material palette largely mirrors those used externally, with elements of the playful geometries and bold colours making their way inside. Ceilings marry perforated plywood and plasterboard for controlled acoustics with exposed mechanical ductwork to reinforce an industrial workshop aesthetic. Details such as a fully transparent 'model' store room allow the students' work in progress to inspire through display.

Those assembled heard from many who were involved in the project, from the school principal and architects, to the teachers and students themselves - all reinforcing that a well-conceived, briefed, designed, supported and embraced building is one which represents an exciting future, and which hopefully will serve as the catalyst for many STEM Centres across the country.

Article and photos by Charmaine Woods, Taylor Robinson Architects