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Spensley Street Primary School

A small project of significant impact, existing library, service and outdoor spaces were transformed into a dynamic learning facility for STEM and Art.

  • Design Response

    A small project with a significant impact, the Spensley Street Primary School STEM centre transforms existing library and service rooms, together with an adjacent outdoor terrace, into a dynamic indoor and outdoor learning facility for STEM and Art.

    Briefed with creating a “space like no other” within the school, the design explored the in-common of science, maths engineering and art – combing rigid and playful geometries, drawn from surrounding buildings, with the colourful unfolded forms of Sol le Witt’s.

    A project that began as a modest refurbishment developed from our proposal to reallocate maintenance funding for repairing the leaking terrace to instead roofing over it. In taking on this problem the STEM facility was enlarged and its facilities able to be shared with nearby art rooms. Together with music and performance spaces below, this outdoor learning area is the heart of a new creative precinct for the school.

    At Spensley Street Primary School we identified the opportunity to address long standing maintenance issues while providing new outdoor learning facilities. Gathering capital works and school raised maintenance funds together, we designed a new roof over an outdoor terrace prone to leaking, connecting the STEM facility we were developing to the current art rooms and creating a new creative precinct.

    Spensley St Primary operates across four open plan learning neighbourhoods that integrate students from different year levels. With a focus on creativity and project based learning, the school had identified a STEM centre as an important facility to build upon its strengths.

    This transformation, of an existing outdoor terrace and redundant boiler room, provides a suite of collaborative working spaces of different sizes, a presentation and group discussion space and an outdoor learning area. Supporting these STEM learning spaces are integrated joinery for equipment and material storage as well as the relocated kiln and pottery area.

    Located adjacent to the current art rooms and directly above the school’s music and performance spaces, the indoor and outdoor spaces of the STEM centre provide the heart of a new creative precinct for the school.

    The design is drawn from these adjacencies; the presence of mathematics, science and engineering alongside art and music. To respond to this, we drew from the buildings that make up this space: the brutalist grid structure of the main school buildings and the more playful BER additions. The grid, used to conceal structure and divide space is shifted and distorted as the architecture extends into the outdoor terrace – capturing how creativity bends the rules in order to innovate.

    Using the existing structure required the use of lightweight cladding, a constraint we worked with to combine textured surfaces with colourful ones. With the instruction paintings of Sol LeWitt as a key reference, the coloured cladding gives another dynamic layer in order that this space achieves what the school wanted: to be flexible, engaging, and unlike any other it has.

     

  • Services Provided

    • Full Services

    Architect

    Workshop Architecture

    People

    Project Director: Simon Whibley
    Project Team: Gab Olah, Kathy Then
    Photographer: John Gollings

    Date completed

    August, 2020

    Location

    Clifton Hill, Victoria

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