Gray Puksand completes school for vulnerable students

Clever new facility for disadvantaged kids.
Sep 10, 2021
Flexible learning spaces.

Gray Puksand has completed the design of a school for some of Victoria’s most disadvantaged youths, Melbourne City Mission’s The Hester Hornbrook Academy Sunshine campus. Leveraging The Academy’s values of community and belonging, Gray Puksand has created a contemporary learning space engaging students through a sense of place and purpose.

Gray Puksand’s design approach celebrates The Academy’s independent and flexible learning arrangements for young people as an alternative to mainstream schools. Completed in 2021, the campus features a series of adjoining communal study spaces facilitating meetings, creativity, dining and staff-student collaboration.

“We aimed to create a sense of openness and freedom throughout our design for The Academy, a place where students can feel safe and inspired to truly be themselves,” says Mark Freeman, Partner at Gray Puksand.

“Many students have told me how HHA really feels like home now. It’s certainly not your standard flexi-school with all the boring, standard finishes. It’s a beautiful space that our staff and students look forward to interacting with,” says Sally Lasslett, Principal of The Hester Hornbrook Academy.

Prioritising key student wellbeing objectives like physical activity and team-building initiatives, the campus features a specialised basketball court and fitness room promoting physical and mental wellbeing across all year levels. An indoor-outdoor transition area and series of pavilions also ensures students have ongoing engagement with new environments and activities throughout their day.

Drawing on the locational attributes of one of Melbourne’s most culturally diverse suburbs, Gray Puksand has celebrated the dynamic Sunshine community through the building’s design. This approach inspires The Academy’s staff to create new and innovative learning pathways offering students choice, freedom and opportunity.

“We’ve noticed our attendance levels are higher than they’ve ever been before on any of our campuses since the building opened. A big part of that is the building itself, and also the programs we can run inside it.”