Haskell Architects | Wyndham Vale Primary School – 2016 Design Is…Award Global Winner

Shaw Contract conducted interviews with all firms of all Market Award winning projects from the 2016 Design Is…Award program. As part of this process, we always like to share a portion of the response on our blog for readers to learn about the winning projects. These are their stories.

Describe this project in one word.


How does this project demonstrate design impact?

Expanding on our one-word description, we really wanted to explore notions of place and memory in primary school design. Time spent at school should be a rich and stimulating experience and we felt this needed to be reflected in the design. This idea translated into a gathering place at the core of each of the learning ‘clusters’ – a place for students from different classes to collectively meet and share in learning together. The hexagon carpet tiles appear to disperse from this core, influencing the way students move in and around the space. It also provides a blurred transition from individual classrooms to open learning spaces that is fun, engaging and memorable. It’s these central activity hubs that really have the biggest design impact in this project.

Each project is a process. Explain your journey with this space.

Architecturally, we began with a central, external meeting space for the school around which ‘clusters’ of buildings catering for different year levels branch off. These provide a variety of flexible learning spaces. Internally, this translated into open spaces with no corridors so that every space could be utilised as a learning space. In this sense, connectivity between staff and students is enhanced. And so, by thoughtful planning, we have managed to create a school design that works incredibly well to cater for many and varied teaching and learning modes.

Tell us about any challenges or lessons learned from working on this project.

We had a tight budget, which meant that we had to be very selective and creative about how, and where, we spent the money we had! We selected the premium coloured hexagon carpet tile in the maximum design impact areas, fading out to a budget carpet tile elsewhere, to achieve a value for money solution. We also had an issue with high moisture levels in the concrete slab, but with the use of the LokDots by Shaw, we were able to overcome this issue easily, saving time and money.

On trends: Is there anything in particular with this project that is reflective of current culture/society?

The final design is, in itself, a direct response to current cultural trends in education planning; collaborative, technology driven and flexible learning spaces that can be configured in different ways to meet modern teaching and learning methods.

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