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Whittlesea Tech School

Preparing learners for the jobs of the future

“When students walk through the front doors of Whittlesea Tech School they will enter a new world. A world of 3D printers and scanners, laser cutters, digital music composition equipment and all the other tools of tomorrow. A world where technology, imagination and innovation merge to create new solutions to old problems. A world where breaking with conventional wisdom is not only encouraged but it is expected. And a world where emersion in modern tech, gives rise to creative inspiration, unexpected discoveries and just as crucially an enormous amount of fun.”

- The Hon. James Merlino MP

THE IDEA

Whittlesea Tech School (WTS) is part of a 10-school initiative by the Victorian Department of Education and Training, which is focused on developing critical science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills in Victorian secondary students.

Located on the Melbourne Polytechnic Epping Campus, the new facility functions as an innovative learning hub, connecting 10,000 secondary students from 14 government, Catholic and independent schools in the local region to a technology-rich and industry-focused learning framework to prepare them for the jobs of the future. 

THE SOLUTION

Designed to inspire curiosity and deep learning, WTS provides a responsive, learner-centric environment that celebrates presentation and display at its core, utilising the language of form and space to challenge and empower learners to unlock their potential. Taking a theme of ‘connectivity’, the spatial and aesthetic response forges a unique school identity in this growing region, generates excitement for STEM, and creates a welcoming and inclusive environment for all learners.

The WTS pedagogical model champions the development of collaboration, problem-solving, critical thinking, and entrepreneurship as core skills for a rapidly evolving world. The architectural and interior design is a physical manifestation of this vision.

With a central focus on ‘connectivity’, the spatial planning and volumetric design of WTS features outdoor and indoor, formal and casual, practical production and high-tech equipment spaces that are linked together to create a seamless project-based learning journey that prioritises exploration and presentation over repetition and examination. Design elements such as large viewing windows, opening hatches, sliding doors and double-height spaces that visually connect levels, ensure that each learning environment is connected with at least two others. This enables learners to organically progress projects between ideation, production, testing, presentation and exhibition phases.

Interiors were inspired by the learners’ path of innovation as they engage with and navigate through the spaces and programs. A common language of leading lines with soft curves reminiscent of a circuit board or metro map appear across a range of forms; pendant lighting, wayfinding graphics, floor finishes, furniture forms and even structure. This brings an approachable interface to a technology-rich environment and subtly references design, invention and industry.

Furniture is modular and moveable, enabling spaces to be adapted to a wide range of learning modes. Advanced manufacturing methods including open-source plywood furniture designs and perforated metal, showcase possible project solutions. A neutral palette of timber and charcoals set the foundation for bright, non-gender specific accents in informal and active learning environments.

THE IMPACT

As a learning space, WTS puts its focus firmly on the future. Various learning spaces are seamlessly connected to guide a pathway of learning across a range of different modes.

Dedicated gallery and industry hub spaces allow for the showcasing of local innovators and inventors including WTS students, local community members and leading industry partners. The celebration of work completed by the students in context with their industry and community representatives encourage personal pride and an aspirational outcome for STEM studies. Profiles of celebrated major Australian innovators have been incorporated into the wall graphics to inspire students to follow their ideas and embark on their own journey of discovery.

Every inch of the building has been activated to accommodate various learning settings. The auditorium staircase allows for large presentations, small group gatherings, and individual work. The workshop on ground floor is ideal for agile learning for a single cohort, moving from wet to dry areas, or for team teaching up to 50 students. Each formal learning space is directly connected to a second learning environment with a breakout zone for seamless transitions.

By focusing on prototyping, experimentation and creation, alongside a model of continually evolving learning programs, the school provides meaningful pathways for participation and establishes wide-ranging opportunities for education. In addition, the agile program design and delivery of WTS allows it to be an incubator of contemporary teaching and learning practice.

ADDRESS

33 Cooper Street, Epping VIC

STATUS

Complete

AWARDS

New Individual Facility under $8m (Winner) - LEA Victorian Chapter Outstanding Learning Environments Awards, 2019

Best School Project Above $5m (Finalist) - Victorian School Design Awards, 2019

Project Partners

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