Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

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Facility of the week

The Infinity Centre, Penleigh and Essendon Grammar (PEGS) Senior School, Keilor East VIC , Australia

The Infinity Centre, the new campus for Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School senior students, is derived from the initial idea that the library, a learning hub, is central to the school. We also wanted a building that offered protection from a windswept site and signified the merging of two schools, Penleigh Presbyterian Ladies' College and Essendon Grammar School for boys. The idea of infinite learning became the mantra. Radiating out from the library are specialist precincts and a variety of learning spaces. Each wing then returns to link up, forming cloisters and the resulting plan of an infinity symbol. Being structured around two protected courtyards has enhanced the learning space’s access to light, ventilation and view. Each wing has its own qualities, different from each other and yet seamlessly connected to the next. In this way the building acts as an embodiment of the journey of education, with less distinction of any prescribed boundaries between disciplines. The colour strategy reinforces the identity of the academic disciplines, universally enhanced by the richness of natural materials such as locally recycled timber, resulting in a variety of spaces and volumes encased within a unifying skin not unlike a collection of villages within a walled citadel with its gardens and ceremonial arches. Concepts of fluidity and connectivity are evident in the building’s exterior form. Clad in gloss-black and silver-banded brickwork, the Infinity Centre rises like a medieval walled city at the southern edge of the campus. Sweeping ‘gateways’ maintain the continuity of this form and provide access into the school’s sheltered inner courtyards; one for formal and the other for informal gathering. The consistency of this external architectural treatment is in direct contrast to the richly expressive variety of internal spaces, materials and colours that provide the discipline-precincts with identity and diversity within the continuous form of the building. The coexistence of these contrasts is emblematic of the school’s pedagogical approach. With the Infinity Centre, PEGS has a tangible manifestation of their unique identity in which structure and individuality work in concert and optimism is its product.
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About this database

The OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments (CELE) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) launched the “Database of Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investment” on 29 September 2011. It seeks to inform the planning, design, construction, management and evaluation of educational spaces, combining resources for strategic investment in educational infrastructure, with exemplary school and university facilities from all over the world.

Drawing on the output of a joint CELE/European Investment Bank project on “Strategic Investment Planning for Educational Infrastructure” and more than 60 exemplary schools and universities featured in CELE’s flagship publication, “Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011”, this database is a unique international resource for educators, designers, policymakers and researchers alike.

Users of the database are encouraged to add their own resource material, or submit new completed university or school projects for publication on the database. OECD and EIB welcome your input to our project!

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