Architects and school planners are tackling increasing population
density in Victoria, South Melbourne, Australia.
It’s here that a “vertical school” will open in 2018 and accommodate over 500 students. The suburb of Victoria is growing by almost 3 000 people per year, and more education facilities are badly needed.
Architect Richard Leonard says that urban planners must get used to the idea that 21st schools must also be community hubs. There will be no fences around the new vertical school, and its meeting rooms, gym and maternal health centre will be used by the community.
A typical school in the outer suburbs, which accommodates a similar number of students, would sit on 3.5 hectares. The five-story vertical school will sit on half a hectare site. Leonard likens it to an eco-friendly education high-rise. Every inch, says Leonard has to “work hard.”
The design of the stairs, for example will double as “mini theatrettes,” where students can perform and share work.
At lunchtime they might play in the public park at the bottom of the school, or in the indoor gymnasium. The early-learning centre will be on the roof, and students will study outdoors and grow vegetables on the school’s seven spacious balconies.
Visits to vertical schools in Copenhagen, San Diego and Sydney inspired Leonard’s design for the new Victoria school.
“One of the challenges is working out how to minimize travel between floors, and connect children between different levels,” he said, adding that spaces would feature elements essential to modern schools like active play spaces, natural light and interconnected areas. “There will be no on-site parking, and students will be encouraged to walk, cycle or catch public transport.
“The school will also offer the community an array of public spaces to be enjoyed by students and locals alike, remaining open after-hours to encourage community interaction and providing spaces that are both community-based and also shared with the school,” he said.
“It’s something we need to address now to ensure young people have the best learning opportunities available to them, no matter where they live.”
Category: Winter 2016