Schools merger creates an energetic and inclusive learning environment in Fremantle

Published: Thursday 16 August 2018

The fourth WA Chapter site visit occurred at Fremantle College, located on the former site of the South Fremantle Senior High School in Beaconsfield.

Fremantle College is the result of the amalgamation of South Fremantle Senior High School with Hamilton Senior High School. The site originally accommodated 500 students but now provides for over 1100 students, from Years 7 to 12.

The school, first built in 1967, had its master plan reviewed, with the decision to upgrade many of the existing buildings and the addition of one new building at the front of the site for the increased student population. The new building houses the Performing Arts Centre, student centre, the Science, Maths and English faculties, along with specialist Autism and educational support programmes.

While experiencing significant latent items, including asbestos and structural deficiencies, during the refurbishment of the existing buildings, the team achieved an effective cost and time solution by employing pre-finished materials and modular structures in the new build. Internally, the usage of a neutral palette is broken with pops of blue, lime green, orange, red and yellow. The rectilinear lines of the classrooms are broken with undulating ceilings and angled lighting in the corridor and breakout spaces.

The aim of the design was to reconnect the school back to the indigenous heritage of both of the original schools, by incorporating fundamental ideas in the local indigenous language into the façade;
-    Reference to Hamilton SHS by using specially-designed breeze-blocks in the external cladding panels;
-    Reference to the site, by employing mirrored cladding to reflect the surrounding environment and using transom-less windows to maximise views from inside, and most importantly,
-    Reference back to the community where it used to host weekend markets and movie nights, by creating the large sheltered courtyard space which is enhanced by the mirrored artwork suspended to the soffit and designed by an alumni of South Fremantle HS, under the brief of ‘kaleidoscope’, the connection of ocean and land.

The new and refurbished facilities have provided the College a new lease on life, with multifunctional, collaborative spaces and indoor/outdoor learning areas creating a modern educational experience in an established setting.

Article and photos: Jennifer Ching, Architect Parry and Rosenthal Architects