Finalist 2021

Pascoe Vale Primary School

Kosloff Architecture / VSBA

Pascoe Vale Primary School extension houses staff and administration. Modifications to the existing building provide teaching and break out spaces.

Pascoe Vale Primary School is a fine example of neo-classical school design by the Chief Architect of the Public Works Department (1922-1929), E. Evan Smith and listed by Heritage Council Victoria as significant.

Our extension, which houses staff and administration, continues the existing building’s masonry language and brick articulation. Internal modifications support innovation in teaching practice, a provision for 21st century learning environments, with a series of break out and ancillary teaching spaces.

The public realm has been extended up to the building through removal of the front fence. This civic gesture strengthens ties between the school and community.

Design Brief

The brief was to extend the existing two storey heritage building to create a new clearly identifiable entry to the school, to house a new reception space and waiting area. This needed to enable the display of students work and encourage interaction with the broader school community. The school entry needed to ensure that access to staff areas and the school beyond could be controlled. New staff areas were required to facilitate collaboration and support professional development. Providing equitable accessibility to all areas of the existing and new build was a key driver, along with the upgrade of existing classrooms for the creation of 21st century learning spaces throughout the existing building.


This project was developed by:

Design Process

Throughout the duration of the design and construction process extensive stakeholder consultation was undertaken with the client, end users and key stakeholders including but not limited to the Department of Education, School and staff, students, parents and community stakeholders. Consultation ensured a comprehensive brief capturing all elements from the functional and programmatic through to the aspirational were captured and interrogated in the design process. Iterative interrogation of the brief and therefore design ensured the outcome was robust but sensitive to the schools identity and long standing history.

Extensive analysis of the existing heritage building was undertaken and used to develop the formal language of the extension, largely realised in a matching red brick with contemporary articulation, with the entry and connection between new and old in cream brick. This not only serves to highlight the transition (in line with Burra Charter principles) but also the new entry, which is foregrounded by a generous public forecourt with seating, now a gathering space for the school community before and after school.

The result is an intricately but robustly detailed contemporary extension that clearly delineates itself from its heritage master. The stark break between the contemporary and heritage red brick buildings creates an identifiable entry for the school which welcomes in its community through integrated seating and generosity of space provide space for the school community to gather before and after school, and for the broader community to use or pass through out of hours.

Design Excellence

Building A has been extensively refurbished to provide 21st century learning spaces, facilitating the implementation of high impact teaching strategies. The new extension and the refurbished classrooms are both accessed through a new entry and foyer designed to be both welcoming and accessible, supporting stronger connections within the school community and with the broader Pascoe Vale community. The creation of a new school entry also provides additional provision for security with the foyer providing a secure space prior to the entry of the school that can be secured as required.

The new extension deliberately maximises northern light and minimises energy loss, through careful siting and planning that limits glazing to the West façade, locates amenities and support areas on the south, with new window openings are concentrated to the north. Other passive design initiatives include increased levels of insulation to external walls and roofs, the application of high-performance double glazing, and the integration of shading to the North façade. The chosen structure and cladding represent conventional building technology that could be executed by a broad range of builders in order to elicit competitive tender responses. Although operating within a modest project budget of $3.49M the project managed to deliver 496 sqm of new space in the extension, as well as the heritage refurbishment of 1,211 sqm.

Key elements of the design include:
+ A clearly identifiable new entry to the school, including an open and welcoming forecourt
+ Reception and waiting area enabling the display of students work
+ Staff areas that facilitate collaboration and professional development
+ 21st century teaching spaces through the provision of teaching walls with integrated AV and storage
+ Conversion of previously under utilised corridor spaces to new breakout spaces
+ Maker Space connected to classrooms that facilitates STEAM activities

Design Innovation

Pascoe Vale Primary Schools new extension provides an example of cost-effective public architecture as an exemplar that good design does not need to be costly, and can provide a durable, long lasting building reflective of the stakeholders aspirations. Working to a very modest budget the design team removed all unnecessary cost items to ensure a building that encaptured the best in ESD principles, durable and local materials with a high-quality design outcome was delivered for the client. Working with the stakeholders to develop a clear narrative and functional brief for the space through directed stakeholder consultation with the end user and community groups ensured that the design was centred on the whole of user brief.
The administration extension design works hard to use an aged old building material of red brick, reimagined in its application and articulation to create an inviting and contemporary new building which is sympathetic to its much-loved heritage end. It was important to all stakeholders that the architectural integrity of the 1929 heritage building be exemplified in the works.

Future proofing was considered in detail throughout the design process with the provision allowed for future removal of walls or the future installation of operable walls to support development and growth in the schools pedagogy. The building footprint was carefully managed to ensure that impact on the playspace area was minimized on this tight, inner city school site to support outdoor learning and recreation, but also potential future growth of the school.

Design Impact

Since its construction in 1929, the original two storey heritage listed building had undergone minimal to no refurbishment works, and was comprised of 12 traditionally enclosed classrooms that did not provide the flexible and adaptable 21st Century learning spaces needed to support the school’s curriculum. Refurbishing the heritage building has transformed these traditional classrooms into a series of flexible spaces that can cater for a variety of group sizes. This has been done by creating new large openings in the existing walls that make use of the underutilised wide existing corridor to create new breakout and withdrawal spaces. Glazed sliding doors provide visual connection between the teaching spaces and these new more intimate spaces, allowing them to be supervised from adjacent areas. These large openings also provide additional natural daylight into the classrooms, taking advantage of the building’s existing northerly aspect. It was crucial that all underutilised existing spaces were reinvigorated and repurposed to provide flexible and adaptable spaces that provide a variety of learning spaces. Other interventions including the conversion of previously underutilised storage and office spaces to create a large central Maker Space to more effectively support the schools’ integrated STEAM curriculum.

Creating an extension of equal build quality and durability that would provide the school with a functional and low maintenance building for the next 100 years was key to the design proposal. Using masonry construction ensured that the building will have a long life cycle and is built of locally produced materials. Northerly orientation and the provision of shading has significantly reduced the heating and cooling load required by the extension, with all habitable spaces prioritized to the northern façade with natural ventilation.

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