Grimshaw Designs NSW’s First High-rise Public School

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Friday, February 19th, 2016
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The multi-storey design for a proposed primary and secondary school in Parramatta presages further densification throughout the suburbs of Australia’s major cities.

Western Sydney is set to host the first high-rise public school in NSW following a proposal to merge Arthur Phillip High School (APHS) and Parramatta Public School (PPS) in the suburb of Parramatta.

Grimshaw and BVN have won the international competition for the design of the proposed multi-storey educational facility, which will rise to a height of 14-storeys and provide education to as many as 2000 high school students and 1000 primary school students.

Renderings of the finished building depict a box-like multi-storey structure dominated by transparent facades that create a keen sense of openness. The primary school section  of the facility consists of a U-shaped curvilinear structure with extensive green roofs and a central court yard.

The decision to create a high-rise educational facility is a telling sign of the ongoing densification trend that will transform many parts of suburban Australia, necessitating the construction of a greater number of high-rise buildings on small land holdings for residential and other purposes.

The high-rise facility will also see the implementation of the innovative Schools-within-Schools (SWIS) concept, which brings together students across a broader range of age groups into more cohesive educational environments.

The primary organizational unit for the school will be “home bases,” encompassing students from multiple age groups, In the primary school each home base will consist of 280 students and in the high-school 330.

The primary school will host three home bases consisting of 280 students, while the high school will have six home bases consisting of 330 students.

In keeping with the school’s innovative organisation, its high-rise design marks a radical departure from the uniform classrooms and staid hallways to which most members of previous generations are accustomed.

In the high school the home bases will be housed by two-storey open spaces equipped with softer, more comfortable furnishings, while the facility will feature a number of outdoor learning spaces for both primary and secondary students, as well as terrace and mezzanine areas.

According to Grimshaw Partner Andrew Cortese the design of educational facilities themselves play a critical role in the education of students at a formative stage of their lives.

“The school buildings act as the social infrastructure for the transformation of individuals and their communities through learning, inclusivity, and outreach, with wellbeing and playfulness arising out of the integration of the physical and environmental,” said Cortese in a statement.

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