Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

Laurimar Primary School, Doreen, Victoria, Australia

Exemplary design categories: art and design facilities, community use and involvement, energy efficiency, flexible learning settings, green school, library/media/resource centre, safety, sporting facilities

How the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
The school is a critical element in the development of the new suburb of Laurimar. Its location and planning formed part of the suburb’s master-plan, and with very few community buildings available, it was designed to offer modern and flexible facilities for community use: the Laurimar community has access to the school’s outdoor recreation areas including soccer/hockey pitch, playground equipment, sporting ovals and landscaped grounds. In addition, the community can access the school’s resource centre, arts centre and gymnasium. The school was designed in five blocks – a junior learning centre, an arts wing, a senior learning centre, an administration and resource centre, and a multipurpose and canteen facility – all linked by a sheltering external corridor which allows these internal spaces a maximum of flexibility. There are no internal corridors, which have been replaced with breakout spaces, wet areas and small group recesses. Each teaching space is visually linked to the outdoors; each classroom opens onto an external teaching area as well as age-based play zones. Within the learning centres, teaching spaces are clustered around a central multipurpose area capable of accommodating up to 200 students. These spaces can open up to one another through large glazed sliding doors, thereby altering the configuration of the area in use. Wireless technology and mobile interactive whiteboards contribute to this flexibility, which promotes anywhere, anytime learning. The school’s resource centre is seen as a valuable library and ICT asset for students and community alike. Similarly, the school’s sporting facilities have been designed with community use in mind. Low-cost, maintenance-free and highly insulated building fabrics were used to create the exterior shell. The new school has transformed an initially flat, barren and windy site into a comfortable learning environment. With the buildings arranged in a protective arc, further mounds have been established to shelter the assembly area other external spaces from the prevailing elements. Indeed, the wind has been harnessed to help ventilate the facility. Environmentally sustainable design has been incorporated throughout the school. Good building orientation was essential to mitigating the effects of solar and weather/wind exposure. Thermal comfort has been further achieved through cross ventilation, night-purging, and the installation of more highly rated insulation. Daylight sensors have been installed to minimise the use of artificial lighting, and 28 solar panels provide the school with 5 kilowatts of power, thereby reducing its reliance on external power. Rainwater tanks have been installed to provide toilet flushing and irrigate school grounds. The new school (including external play areas) complies with stringent safety standards as set out in the Building Code of Australia and the Department’s Building Quality Standards Handbook. The school is security-alarmed and monitored by the Department’s Emergency & Security Management Unit. While the school is an important community resource, public access (including vehicle access) has been designed in such a way as to preserve student safety. Increased community usage of school facilities also leads to increased community surveillance and asset protection.

Involvement of users and the local community in the planning and design process:
When school planning commenced, there was no real focus of the prospective Laurimar community other than the sales office and café of the estate developer, Delfin. A school planning committee, comprising Departmental representatives and members of the proposed school and local community, emphasised a need for the project to define a sense of community within this new suburb.

Activity Areas: learning centre, administration wing, resource centre, arts facility and associated amenities.

Project costs: AUD 8,000,000.00

Source: Submitted to OECD for "Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011" in 2010

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User perspectives (1)

“School facilities provide our staff with flexible spaces to support multi-modal learning models. The spacious classrooms provide teaching spaces that allow for individual, small group and whole class learning...Members of the school planning committee have recently visited the school and unanimously stated how proud they are to see the time they devoted to the design input actually coming through in the delivery of the final product.”
Darryl Furze, Principal

Images (5)

Drawings (3)

Learning Centre Plan (Registration required)
application/pdf
Credit: Minx Architecture Pty Ltd
Arts and Administration Building Plans (Registration required)
application/pdf
Credit: Minx Architecture Pty Ltd
Learning Centre furniture plan (Registration required)
image/pjpeg
Credit: Minx Architecture Pty Ltd