A school with zing!

27 Feb 2011

Challenging the factory model of teaching, this ambitious school speaks to its broader community

Located in inner urban Melbourne the senior addition to Fitzroy High School was officially completed on May 4 2009. The expansion to include years 11 and 12 gave the school community an opportunity to cement its reputation as a state leader in the implementation of progressive education for design, accommodating and expressing the requirements and aspirations of the 21st century. The school wanted to be ‘seen’, to be obvious as a community facility. The brief required the response to have ‘zing’.

To the occupier the building was shaped from the interior out; an initial block of program was pushed and pulled to create a series of peninsulas within the large learning studios. The intent was to create spaces within spaces, studios that could operate in a large variety of teaching scenarios from small group discussion to a large lecture format (and everything else in between). Spaces that could be divided quickly and easily via a series of dramatic curtains allow team teaching to occur fluidly in response to the dynamic of the group. Teacher’s work areas are embedded in studios, glazed and on show, impromptu and informal interaction between all is encouraged.

To the outside observer the building is shaped from the outside in; the building is proudly a community building, an urban marker to enhance urban legibility. The building was to talk about the schools aspirations and ambition. The brickwork tradition extends the rich tradition of expressive brickwork in the local area. The dense patterning and double windows confounds the reading of the inside spaces from outside, it counterpoints the rationalist of the 60’s classroom block it abuts: The difference reflecting a change in teaching from the 60’s factory model to a model more flexible and focused on the individual.

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