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Officer Specialist School

Pioneering new levels of inclusive school design


Officer Specialist School is the combination of a Special and Special Developmental School that caters for student’s ages 5 to 18 with a wide range of special needs, from very mild to quite severe, requiring an adaptable and agile facility that is cognisant of these varying and sometimes competing needs.

The school is designed to be safe, nurturing and respect the dignity of children and is the result of extensive research into the best practice in design for special needs. Great care has been taken to ensure that the facilities are stimulating, engaging and without any institution stigma to create a welcoming, secure environment where children can flourish.

"Extensive community engagement and the community passion for the project shaped the design outcome, with every design decision reflecting the specific needs and requirements of students, the strongly invested interests of the community, and the pedagogical vision for the school."

Simon Le Nepveu, Partner, CHC


Given the wide variety of ages and needs of students, Officer Specialist school is defined by four distinct age-based learning communities that are autonomous in catering for all student needs. Specialist facilities including consultation rooms, multi-sensory rooms, amenities, kitchens, arts and performance spaces are embedded in each learning community to ensure that students, teachers and staff have the facilities and resources they need at their fingertips.

The Specialist School provides varied facilities to support students with intellectual, physical and multiple disabilities to learn and achieve to their full potential. The learning communities are agile spaces that provide opportunities for customisation to meet the needs of each student and group of students. There are engaging and stimulating areas
as well as quieter and more focussed areas. The connection of indoor and outdoor spaces has been prioritised and similarly the connection with the Secondary College.

Drawing inspiration from Officer’s farming past, the new school features simple building forms that reflect the gable style architecture of early settlers’ cottages. A natural earthy palette articulates the simplicity of the built form and celebrates the region’s timber and brick industry history through a dynamic palette of materials including natural timber cladding and heavily patterned masonry. A lively and engaging sense of place was created by utilising a consistent brick pattern that fades from dark to light as the core visual aesthetic, punctuated by feature glazed brick highlights to assist with wayfinding, and add a sense of vibrancy and activity to the built environment.

The materiality was used to celebrate the past and add vibrancy through colour and texture so the physical environment stimulates students. Whether through multisensory walls, spinning padded poles, textured seating nooks or semi-enclosed outdoor learning spaces, every aspect of the design is focused on engaging and simulating and/or calming the students so they can achieve their optimal engagement and activity level for learning.


Officer Specialist School was delivered on time and under budget. It has been recognised at the Victorian School Design Awards for its contribution to inclusive design. The school community has also specifically noted the ease of maintaining facilities, the enhancement of learning opportunities for students with diverse needs, and the ability of facilities to support varied learning programs. 

"Officer Specialist School is the pride of a rapidly growing community. It is perfectly designed forpurpose, able to service the diverse and changing needs of the community whilst presenting a beautiful façade to all."

Officer Specialist School


3 Parker St, Officer VIC




Best Use of Inclusive Design - Victorian School Design Awards, 2016