Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

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

Exemplary design categories: art and design facilities, comfort, cost efficiency, energy efficiency, flexible learning settings, furniture, green school, integrated services, library/media/resource centre, music and theatre facilities, outdoor spaces, safety, school/community regeneration, science laboratories, sporting facilities, technology rich

How the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
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.

Involvement of users and the local community in the planning and design process:
The Infinity Centre marks the merging of two schools, Penleigh Presbyterian Ladies' College and Essendon Grammar School for boys and began as a design competition. The ideas informing the initial competition design were closely aligned with the ethos of the school and its ambitions for the project. The Infinity Centre is a co-educational facility for VCE students of a school in which, up until this age, students are grouped according to gender. Rather than punctuating the termination of their secondary education, the school’s approach to these formative years is to approach them as the beginning of each student’s journey into the future as an as emerging, self-reliant and confident young adult. This approach combines structured pedagogy with individual freedom, and fosters a new energy of socialisation and interaction in the students’ later years.

Activity Areas: Class room, arts, sciences, mathematics, languages, a library, a formal lecture theatre, administration, sporting fields and staff facilities.

Project costs: EUR 0.00

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User perspectives (1)

McBride Charles Ryan has worked closely with the school in an effort to understand the school’s needs and translate them effectively and creatively. As a result their building's reflect the educational and social principles upon which the school is based. Their articulation of these principles is energizing and engaging. MCR achieved outstanding results while working with the budget set by the school.
Nina Bilewicz, Vice Principal

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Drawings (2)

MCBRIDE CHARLES RYAN (Registration required)
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MCBRIDE CHARLES RYAN (Registration required)

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