Sandringham East Primary School in bayside Melbourne has won Learning environments Australasia – Vic Chapter’s inaugural People’s Choice Award for 2020.
Following a renovation, the school is now a community hub, sharing its facilities and integrating the school with the surrounding neighbourhood.
“In Term One this year we gladly shared our school with our neighbours after they had a disastrous fire, and their community was blown away by our school. We were proud to be able to share it with them,” Laureen Walton, Principal Sandringham East Primary School says.
The masterplan and design by ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects transformed a 1930s campus of cellular classrooms off central corridors, ad hoc additions over many years, with no space for whole-of-school gatherings.
Stage 1 of the project, built by 2Construct, introduces sustainable, flexible, connective new learning and multi-purpose buildings, a welcoming entrance, clear circulation paths, undulating landscaping that incorporates an existing friendship garden and new performance and learning decks, and a central ‘village square’ for learning, play and gatherings.
New facilities shared with the school community and broader neighbourhood include a sports stadium with retractable seating, a creative arts space and courtyard, and a performing arts space that opens onto an amphitheatre. There is a canteen and a staff lounge that overlooks a central play area.
ClarkeHopkinsClarke Senior Associate Liz Kuiper says, “When a client has a strong desire and need there’s this excitement that makes them such a delight to work with.
“They’re so happy with the result. Sandringham east Primary School is a particularly active, involved school community, and they’ve been working for many years to modernise the campus because they know how important contemporary spaces are to contemporary teaching and learning. They really care about sharing the benefits, not just with their students but with their whole community.”
Principal Laureen Walton says the design draws on research into optimal learning environments with a strong impact on student engagement and outcomes. “We’re so happy with the result, and it’s seen by our local colleagues and community as an exemplar of what can be achieved,” she says. “The design uses light and sustainable materials to the utmost. The new Learning Centre and sports stadium have enhanced our teaching and learning with exciting new spaces and provided a hub for gatherings that’s strengthening our community spirit.
“The learning spaces are designed around our vision for curriculum delivery, and we’re finding both staff and students are really happy and deeply engaged with the opportunities they provide. The landscaping is the icing on the cake – students love playing and rolling on the beautiful mounds, and the vegetation is thriving. In Term one this year we gladly shared our school with our neighbours Sandringham Primary after they had a disastrous fire, and their community was blown away by our school. We were proud to be able to share it with them.”
ClarkeHopkinsClarke education Partner Wayne Stephens says the design replaced two buildings that had reached the end of their life with the new double-storey learning building and a sports stadium shared with the community outside of school hours and linked to the existing library via a shared foyer.
“Our aim was really to better connect learners, staff and the broader school community using stronger sightlines and physical connections between spaces,” he says.
“The Learning building accommodates varied learners and learning modes with spaces that can be semi- or fully enclosed and clearly defined zones for collaboration, explicit instruction and quiet reflection. The central zone is great for creative activities, independent learning, games or socialising. We’ve integrated staff facilities which helps with connections. Reading windows and learning decks and courtyards create a lovely indoor-outdoor flow.”
Photograph by Dianna Snape