Penleigh and Essendon Senior School
Friday 15 Mar 2013


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The Infinity Centre is a new senior school for the Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School in Keilor East, Melbourne, Australia. PEGS approach to teaching and learning combines structured pedagogy with individual freedom, and fosters socialisation and interaction. The Infinity Centre reflects this approach through the key concepts underpinning its design: the dynamic between structure and fluidity; between uniformity and individuality. At a practical level, the Infinity Centre provides all the structured areas required of such a facility.Beyond this, the design is developed as an abstraction of the infinity symbol. Like the gothic cathedral, the symbolic form is embodied in use. At the centre of the infinity plan, where all the wings cross over, is the library, a key interior space and destination. The building is clad in gloss-black and silver-banded brickwork, like a medieval walled city. Sweeping ‘gateways’, (semi-interior spaces), maintain the fluid continuity of this form and provide access into and between the school’s sheltered inner courtyards. The consistency of the external architectural treatment is in contrast to the richly expressive variety of internal spaces, materials and colours. The spatial configuration, materials and colours clearly distinguish and give a particular quality to the various disciplines within the school. The interface and relationship between the disciplines is carefully considered and orchestrated. The circulation spaces of the building are also given as much consideration as the destination space. Corridors expand and contract in size to become study areas, breakout spaces, locker zones and places of social gathering. Stairs each have their own quality and provide multiple pathways to transverse the ‘infinity plan’ The coexistence of the contrasts of the exterior form & interior space is emblematic of the school’s pedagogical approach. The Infinity Centre is a celebration of the potential for design to realise the ambitions of its community.

McBride Charles Ryan