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Carnegie Primary School

Historic modernisation recognised in Victorian School Design Awards


How does a 21st century school modernise a campus established in 1888 to create an inclusive, motivating, contemporary learning environment with strong community ties? At Carnegie Primary School, a finalist in the 2019 Victorian School Design Awards for the Best School Project below $5m, ClarkeHopkinsClarke used a robust, collaborative masterplanning and design process that considered not just the school’s current and developing pedagogical approaches but future growth, the much-loved heritage character of historic buildings, and aspirations for collaborative teaching and learning spaces and for outdoor space designed for learning as well as play.

“The project surpassed our expectations, modernising existing facilities, preserving the integrity of the heritage-listed Foundation Building, and introducing robust, engaging outdoor spaces for learning and play. The enhanced learning environments empower and motivate students and help teachers and support staff work in collaborative learning teams.”

Linda Jones, Principal, Carnegie Primary School


This first stage of masterplanned works involved refurbishing the historic red brick Foundation Building, demolishing an existing school hall with limited capacity, and introducing a new Sports Stadium & Arts Building. Internalised classrooms in the Foundation building were opened up to create collaborative, nurturing environments that accommodate varied learning settings. These colourful, adaptable spaces feature integrated resources and art facilities and direct connections with engaging outdoor spaces that also support varied learning modes as well as play. The new Sports Stadium & Arts Building features a competition-sized stadium for shared community use and whole-school gatherings, as well as a school canteen, performing arts space and visual arts area with landscaped artist court.

ClarkeHopkinsClarke Partner Wayne Stephens says the design celebrates the heritage character of the Foundation Building. “That building means a lot to the school community so it was important to refurbish it very sensitively,” he says. “We minimised changes to the façade and retained and replicated key architectural features. Inside we opened up internalised classrooms to create light, flexible spaces where learning happens in diverse settings, inside and outdoors. The school wanted an environment that supports collaborative teaching and learning and that motivates students to be reflective, independent learners.”

The interior design is soft, nurturing and engaging, and uses vibrant colour to help young orient themselves. There’s orange upholstered seating in spaces for quiet reflection, persimmon shelving in creative and presentation spaces, red circular carpet features for storytelling or small group activities. There’s a playful design narrative of curved joinery and circular cut-outs between learning settings that provide ‘through the looking glass’ views.

“The design minimises changes to the historic façade, frames it with outdoor learning decks, activates outdoor spaces for learning and play, and creates a stronger, more active interface with the local community.”

Wayne Stephens, Partner ClarkeHopkinsClarke


The Sports Stadium and Arts Building introduces specialist spaces to celebrate the arts and physical education and encourage students to build skills and resilience in both. These link to an outdoor learning environment that includes an artists’ court, play area and sporting facilities, which creates an agile external learning environment. 

“The built form references the historic Foundation Building and has a minimal setback to create a strong, active civic presence,” Wayne says. “It acts as a new community entrance and a welcoming interface with local community. That really highlights the school’s focus on health and wellbeing.” 

Sustainability measures also contribute to a healthy, energy efficient environment. High-level windows in the Sports Stadium admit southern light by day and help create a night purge system that expels hot air. Opening up the Foundation Building maximises natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting. And Universal Design Principles inform all aspects of the design, ensuring new and refurbished facilities support students with diverse abilities.


51 Truganina Road, Carnegie




Shortlisted for Best School Project Below $5M - Victorian School Design Awards, 2019

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