Integrating contemporary learning spaces into an existing heritage inner city school

Published: Thursday 6 December 2018

As everyone winds down for the year, the last site visit of 2018 was the award winning Highgate Primary School New Teaching Spaces which saw nearly 50 people attending.

The new double storey building is located in one of the oldest schools in the Perth metropolitan area. Tasked with the daunting task of introducing 8 new classrooms in the inner city primary school on a tight site while still trying to maintain as much open space as they could, detailed briefing was undertaken with the school, State Heritage, City of Perth, Department of Education and the surrounding multicultural community.

The New Teaching Spaces is based on the government standard pattern primary school design with 4 early childhood classrooms downstairs and 4 primary classrooms upstairs. By rearranging some of the briefed areas and introducing wrap-around balconies, the new building provides new flexible play and teaching spaces for the school and weekend community users.

The new building provides a new campus entrance and is comprised of differently scaled structures as a direct reaction to its context. A tall tower is located on the street corner to reflect the towers of neighbouring spiritual buildings and the idea of the wealth of the city and the home.

The eastern tower is a response to the gable edge of the heritage-listed building directly opposite. And the more intimate spaces feeds back to the children the new building houses but allows them to experience the difference when the intimacy opens up to the external landscape and the Perth skyline to its south.

The Highgate Primary School New Teaching Spaces is a well-considered project that prompts inquisitiveness of the students, teachers, visitors and passer-by’s alike.

Article: Jennifer Ching, Architect, Parry and Rosenthal Architects
Photos: Jennifer Ching and Michelle Chew