Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, Southbank, Victoria, Australia

Exemplary design categories: art and design facilities, comfort, community use and involvement, music and theatre facilities

How the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
The facility operates at two levels: as a government secondary school delivering a generalist curriculum and as a specialist performing arts academy. Confined to an area of just 3 500m2, the location is affected by traffic noise and pollution as well as adverse ground conditions deriving from a legacy of river silts. To deal with noise and vibration, the building has robust foundations and pre-cast concrete cladding complemented by sealed double glazed windows. All air-handling units are fitted with filters to assure internal air quality. Natural daylight was also an issue due to site constraints, as windows could not be placed along two sides of the building. This problem was solved by installing highlight windows above the dance and recital studios, and by the extensive use of internal glazing to channel natural light deep within the building. Windows have been sized to achieve a balance between maximising daylight and minimising noise. Where noise is not an issue, large picture windows allow views of the city skyline. The majority of spaces within the school have been designed around a central corridor that rises over two levels and is lit from above by a series of skylights. This provides a central focus and helps orientation to all parts of the building. Specialist teaching and performance spaces are located adjacent to circulation areas and provided with appropriate glazing. This is intended to promote the connection between the school’s specialist curriculum and its general teaching activities. The school’s specialist facilities provide students with the teaching and rehearsal environments essential to the pursuit of performance careers. These include four dance and two recital studios, and a large suite of acoustically designed music practice and ensemble rooms. The integrated provision of flexible learning spaces supports ongoing curriculum development and enhanced learning outcomes. This shift from traditional classroom environments and pedagogy is in keeping with the school’s specialist nature and provides opportunities for interactive and collaborative learning. The establishment of a “hire zone” permits the bulk of the school to remain securely locked down after school hours while primary performance spaces and dance studios are available to external groups.

Activity Areas: foyer cafe, small recital space, large recital space, dance studio, drama, ensemble percussion, practice room, ensemble brass, harp room, ensemble improv, music tech, staff office, staff workspace, staff lounge, conference room, reception

Project costs: AUD 20,000,000.00

Source: "Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011"

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User perspectives (1)

“The new building for the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School offers an unbelievable opportunity to not only provide an outstanding academic education and world class training in dance and music, but it also changes what a school can and should look like. Imagine a shopping mall where instead of shops you have classrooms; imagine a school without grounds. Imagine a school that says ""Let's raise the bar on everything we do". We have been a hugely successful State Government school; imagine what we will do next.”
Colin Simpson, Principal

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Drawings (4)

cross sections (Registration required)
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floor plan (Registration required)
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floor plan (Registration required)
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site plan (Registration required)
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