|Jon Purcell OX 1989 talks about the concept of vertical schools.|
With a rising inner urban population across Australian cities and increasingly scarce land availability, vertical schools are on the rise across Australia. From pre-school through to high school and tertiary education providers, we are seeing facilities being built up, rather than spreading out at ground level with recreational spaces located within buildings and on roof tops.
As Project Manager and Superintendent for the $115m (2,700 student) Greater Shepparton College, the $84m Fitzroy Gasworks Senior Campus, and the $50m McKinnon Secondary College (amongst other schools and TAFE facilities) SEMZ are honoured to be playing a significant role in delivering Victoria’s largest-ever vertical public-school developments.
SEMZ Director Jon Purcell relishes the opportunity to take part in building the future of Victorian education. ‘It’s exciting to be involved with education and improving Victoria’s educational facilities at this time of rapid growth. SEMZ is honoured to play an active role in the delivery of multiple, large scale vertical education facilities for Victoria’s current and future student generations’.
Speaking at the opening of the SEMZ delivered Wonthaggi Secondary College earlier this year, James Merlino – Minister for Education, spoke of the recent increase in school enrolments across the state ‘It’s quite a historic time in education. For the first time ever, we have cracked one million students in Victoria – primary and secondary school’.
James Merlino and Richard Wynne, Member for Richmond, recently released designs of the new Fitzroy Gasworks Vertical School and announced early site works are now underway.
Designed by GHD Woodhead and Grimshaw architects, with Watpac Construction appointed as Head Contractor, the $84 million inner-north campus will accommodate senior students from Fitzroy High School and Collingwood College within a new multi-level school campus featuring a stepped rooftop space traversing four levels.
The school will include state-of-the-art general learning spaces, an arts and performance space, a digital design and technology hub, a wood and metalwork hub, and access to a rooftop terrace, outdoor basketball court and activity spaces.
Dr Cleveland emphasises the importance of carefully planning the design and intended use for rooftop and outdoor spaces. ‘The outdoor spaces in vertical schools have to work a lot harder. The design must maximise the opportunity for every square inch to facilitate active play, exploratory play and passive nooks and crannies for students to find some respite – trying to accommodate the full spectrum of student activity, whilst safely accommodating students of various age groups.’
The ultimate challenge and measure of success for any new education facility is seen in the teaching population embracing the pedagogical philosophies expressed through the physical layouts of new flexible and collaborative learning spaces, be they delivered via single storey buildings or via vertical facilities.
In conclusion, Jon Purcell expressed that “The professional satisfaction we at SEMZ achieve in leading our project teams through the design and construction phases of new educational facilities is immense. I am proud of the expertise we have developed over time, working with Architects and leading education specialists such as Dr Cleveland, to ensure design layouts, adjacencies, form and materiality match the evolving pedagogical teaching philosophies throughout the nation. From refurbishments of existing facilities to low rise new schools in Melbourne’s growth corridors and the vertical facilities being delivered within Melbourne’s inner suburbs, the facilities are world class and will make an absolute and real positive influence for generations.”