Vertical schools on the rise in Australia
As cities run out of space and transition from building outward to upward, high-rise education looks to be the way of the future, with construction on Victoria’s first vertical school beginning last week.
The P-6 primary school is being built on Ferrars Street, South Melbourne, and will be five-storeys high. The school has been designed by Hayball, and includes open space on each level.
“Involving the development of a new model for school and community, a key innovation is the unprecedented integration of shared school and community facilities. As well as a government primary school for 525 students, the project includes an early learning centre, administration, multi-purpose community rooms, a recreation hub (indoor netball courts) and associated amenities,” Hayball say.
Australia’s first high-rise school, St Andrews Cathedral School in Sydney, was built in 1976, however the trend did not take off again until recent years when city density became an issue. Melbourne City Council has now approved plans for Haileybury College to also construct a 10-storey school in the CBD, featuring an outdoor terrace and gymnasium on its rooftop.
St George’s Anglican Grammar, in Perth, was opened last year. The school occupies an old office block and its only outdoor space is on the roof. Meanwhile, the NSW Government has decided to build four high-rise schools around Sydney.
The plans for these high-rise schools have not come without criticism, however.
As with any proposed high-rise, nearby residents have voiced concern that their views will be obstructed and that the buildings will increase congestion. Opposers of vertical schools also argue that they decrease the time children spend outdoors and present issues in the instance of evacuations – one can only imagine trying to get thousands of teenagers to exit a multiple-storey building swiftly.
The concept of high-rise education is primarily a new one for Australians, but is already mainstream and effective in other areas of the globe, in places such as Singapore and New York.
In Manhattan, the 76-storey building on 8 Spruce Street houses a school for students from early learning levels through to eighth grade. Occupying levels one to five, the school is topped by apartments, a hospital, and public plazas.
The Canadian International School Of Hong Kong is a 14-storey school which had its first nine floors completed in 1999, and in 2002 added an extra five. On the first level is a swimming pool, and outdoor playgrounds are located on the third and sixth.
While high-rise schools don’t feature the expansive grounds of single-storey establishments, rooftop and mid-building yards allow the kids much of the same external play space as traditional school layouts. Vertical education also comes with many benefits that are unmatched by their single-storey counterparts. Being situated in a high-rise means a school can be located close to, or even within, the CBD, providing students with a variety of educational facilities at their doorstep. Children in attendance of Haileybury College, for example, will have the State Library, Melbourne Museum and National Gallery of Victoria – amongst others – all within a four-kilometre radius.
As cities become denser and moving up becomes the only clear option, vertical schooling will predictably become more common, yet only time will tell whether it’s a concept marked with prosperity.
The P-6 primary school is scheduled to open in 2018.