Hester Hornbrook Academy is an independent provider of education for young adults, many of whom have come from some of the most socially and demographically challenged areas of Melbourne. Prior to joining the Academy, many students had become disengaged from learning as traditional school settings and programmes have not adequately supported their individualised needs, their wellbeing, nor their potential. With cohorts across diverse cultures, genders, ages and abilities, students comprise young parents, LGBTIQ+ youth, young adults from complex family settings and those experiencing transient accommodation or homelessness, the school celebrates difference. The new campus in Sunshine, an outer suburb of Melbourne, is a unique learning environment – focused on enabling educators to provide a respectful, student centred, holistic approach to supporting young people with all aspects of their education and personal wellbeing through an engaging, high quality curriculum programme catering to students’ individual interests, preparing them for meaningful work and adult life. The academy exhibits a healing orientated curriculum, designed to give students a better understanding of things that upset and destabilise them; ways of identifying emotions they are experiencing and why; and strategies to manage these disruptions. The Academy recognises traditional school isn’t for everyone, encouraging students to forge their own path. The client’s brief was therefore to create a campus which imbued their organisational values, as an agile landscape to support their alternative education programmes. The design approach realised an open, visually connected series of learning precincts integrated with wellbeing, retreat and social settings, balanced with spaces for activity, gathering, recreation, amenity and social connection. The overall scheme is deliberately domestic in scale to promote a feeling of inclusion, safety and community. Although the facility has been established in what was previously a commercial building, the design team has collaborated with the client to optimise the available space and volume to create a cohesive learning neighbourhood. The design’s emphasis is on community and belonging and for these students being a part of something is crucial, not only for their academic development but for their own personal growth. From a client’s perspective, attendance levels at this new campus have been higher than that attained at any of their previous campuses, with greater engagement of students and swift establishment of a cohesive and supportive new community of learners. Our presentation will take delegates through the process to understand the organisation, their programmes, and their diverse student cohort – informing brief development, the design process and narrative. It will provide insight into the completed campus and how this is now informing future spaces for the Academy – the lessons learnt and the positive impacts the campus is having on student and staff culture, wellbeing and educational achievements.
Gray Puksand is a national Australian Architecture practice, specialising in the planning and design of progressive learning environments – Mark is a Partner of the design practice and a leader of their national education team, across four east coast design studios. Mark has nearly 25 years’ experience in developing responsive facility briefs, fulfilling these through the collaborative design of innovative learning environments – establishing the practice at the forefront of creating agile, enduring learning environments in Australia. With projects widely acknowledged through multiple architecture and educational planning awards, Mark works closely with diverse stakeholder groups and learning communities to co-design learning environments, informed by a sound understanding of contemporary educational pedagogies and learning space design principles.
This track focuses on Resiliency and addresses how learning environments support the development of students and communities that have the strength and flexibility to withstand adversity and adapt to change. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the essential role that schools have in stabilizing communities during a time of crisis. How do schools support the development of strong community culture among teachers and students? How do schools foster physical and mental health and wellness to ensure all are ready and supported to learn? How do we create learning environments that are strong in intent yet adaptable to change? How do we learn from what does not work and further, learn to take risks daily to expand our comfort zone? What can we learn from research and our responses to past events to inform how to build toward a resilient future where we can withstand what crises and challenges the future brings? Topic areas, seen through the lenses of both Art and Science, include sustainability, physical and mental health, community, school climate and culture, safety, and security.
Primary Core Competency
Design of Educational Facilities: Acts as a resource to the design team in providing ongoing guidance and support to ensure that the emerging and ultimate design aligns with the established community vision, education goals, future programming, written design standards, best/next practices and education policy.