Whittlesea Tech School

  • area / size 16,006 sqft
  • Completed 2019
  • Location Melbourne, Australia,
  • ClarkeHopkinsClarke completed the Whittlesea Tech School as an innovative and collaborative learning space in Melbourne, Australia.

    The brief was formidable. Design a welcoming, collaborative centre of technological innovation that prepares a diverse, transient population of 10,000 students (drawn from 14 government, Catholic and independent schools) for a future workforce in which 75% of jobs involve STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).

    Over two levels, the purpose-built facility links practical workshop and laboratory spaces housing high-tech tools and equipment to auditoriums, an industry hub conference and meeting amenities, and a double-height central gallery and exhibition space running the length of the building. Spatial planning and volumetric design drawing strongly on an underlying theme of connectivity. Viewing windows, sliding doors and double-height spaces connect each learning environment with at least two others, allowing learners to organically progress projects through the ideation, production, testing, presentation and exhibition phases.

    The design uses proven construction methods to cost effectively deliver spaces supporting pedagogy in interesting ways. “Every inch of the building is activated,” Wayne says. “The auditorium staircase area can accommodate large presentations and small group gatherings. The innovation workshop can host a single cohort moving between wet and dry areas or a collaboration involving 50 students.” Each formal learning spaces connect directly to a second learning environment with a breakout zone for seamless transitions. A large central gallery works as a perpetual exhibition space.

    Furniture is modular and moveable to adapt to various learning modes. Advanced manufacturing methods including open-source plywood furniture designs and perforated metal, showcase possible project solutions. A neutral palette of timber and charcoals create bright, gender neutral accents in informal and active learning environments. The wayfinding system draws inspiration from the iconic design metro maps. Interconnected lines of colour and universally recognisable symbols used throughout the building provide clear direction to people of all abilities and highlight the achievements of prominent Australian inventors.

    Architect: ClarkeHopkinsClarke
    Photography: Dianna Snape