Finalist 2023

Wurun Senior Campus

Designed by GHD Design + Grimshaw / Commissioned by The Victorian School Building Authority / Clients: The Victorian School Building Authority, Collingwood College and Fitzroy High School / Builder: BESIX Watpac / Property Advisory and Project Management: SEMZ

Wurun Senior Campus provides students, teachers and community with countless opportunities in an inspiring educational facility that raises the bar

Wurun Senior Campus is a sustainable, new vertical school typology designed for the Victorian School Building Authority - integrated with community, business, creative and entrepreneurial hubs. Its tertiary-inspired education facilities across six levels bring together senior students from Collingwood College and Fitzroy High School, supporting their future focused program. The building’s vertical form steps up to create a series of outdoor terraces, affording the wellbeing benefits of natural light, views, greenery, recreation and social connection. Each terrace connects directly to interior learning environments, facilitating a diverse and multidisciplinary education experience, in flexible settings, designed to help students build 21st century skills.

Design Brief:

Our brief was to custom design a sustainable, vertical campus to bring together senior students from Collingwood College and Fitzroy High School for the Victorian School Building Authority and Department of Education, pioneering a new vertical school typology.

A flexible design was needed to support interdisciplinary learning and the schools’ future focused senior program and ambition to ‘offer more choice and help students build the skills to be adaptable, innovative and ready to navigate their future beyond high school.’ Tertiary style, inclusive, indoor-outdoor learning, play spaces and engagement with neighbouring creative, business and entrepreneurial hubs were key requirements of the brief.

Envisioned as an important social infrastructure asset for community, the campus would play an early foundational role as part of the Fitzroy Gasworks transformation into a new residential precinct. The precinct vision was for an integrated school with a community sports centre that maximised amenity on the compact site.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

The design process for Wurun Senior Campus was led by GHD Design and Grimshaw to create a highly sustainable vertical senior campus for 650 students.

The design was informed by an inclusive and extensive briefing and engagement process with our clients the Victorian School Building Authority and schools - Collingwood College and Fitzroy High School leadership teams and staff. This involved exemplar visits to draw inspiration from tertiary and training learning environments and regular design visioning meetings. Our consultation included students, teachers, school and broader community. We synthesised the education requirements and consultation insights into a series of design principles in a return brief which we used to guide the project through to realisation.

Early in the design process, we partnered with the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, the Registered Aboriginal Party in the area. In conjunction with SHP, the Wurundjeri guided us to a range of ideas and themes that reflected meaningful aspects of their history, culture and values. We worked together to determine how their stories could be authentically interpreted and woven into the campus wayfinding, landscape, mural, artworks and panels.

The final design is a great example of how ideas from stakeholder, First Nations and community consultation have been reflected. Campus Principal Chris Millard said, “Its distinctive university and tertiary education feel and settings afford all students opportunities to develop 21st century skills. Specialist teaching spaces with flexible, collaborative learning studios, breaking out to common spaces indoors and out, gives us many options to explore teaching pedagogies and for students to draw on the inspiration in the different settings.”

Note: First Nations consultation, historical content, interpretive design was undertaken by SHP in association with VSBA, GHD Design and Grimshaw. First Nations artworks credit, artist Ash Firebrace.

For more information refer to excellence, innovation and impact responses.

Design Excellence

With end-user experience at the core, our design aspiration was for the architecture to raise the bar for what a state school could be. Here’s how we did it.

10 benchmarks set by Wurun Senior Campus for design excellence in Victoria

  • First typology of its kind delivered for the Victorian Government in providing a dedicated campus for senior students, co-run by two schools for their innovative future-focused program, geared around developing 21st century skills
  • Stepped vertical building form created opportunities for:
    • outdoor terraces on each level that enhance student wellbeing and connection to the public realm
    • direct indoor-outdoor learning environment connectivity
    • three stacked multipurpose sports courts
  • Access to outdoor learning and recreation space on every level, maximising the usable outdoor space while decreasing travel time to access it, versus vertical schools that generally have rooftop space only
  • Clever manipulation of the small, irregular site provides a social infrastructure asset that enriches the community
  • Integration with adjacent community sports centre providing secure access for broader community
  • First Nations outcomes are a rare example of interpretative storytelling about contested and difficult histories in a public space in Victoria that is not a museum, but a school
  • Senior secondary school reimagined as a university, tertiary and future pathways stepping stone
  • Inclusive and welcoming design supports all learners via a diversity of spaces, using natural materials, universal access and intuitive wayfinding, outdoor connectivity and views
  • Sustainable performative façade modelled to optimise shade, maximise natural light while reducing glare, increasing thermal comfort and controlling acoustics
  • Integration of the main circulation route with learning spaces invites students on a journey and together with transparency and visual connection - links discipline areas. This encourages interdisciplinary learning and sharing, equipping students with the skills needed to navigate future careers.

Design Innovation

Wurun Senior Campus fosters social equity as part of the Victorian Government’s Education State initiative which gives all students equitable access to the same quality education, regardless of their background or circumstance.

Designed for 650 students, the campus provides leading-edge education amenities for senior secondary students close to their homes, supported by excellent active transport.

Its custom-designed facilities for Collingwood College and Fitzroy High School’s future focused senior program, eases enrolment pressures at both partner schools and increases their capacity.

Wurun Senior Campus’s distinctive stepped, vertical building form, wraps around a prominent corner site and steps up along its length, providing a unique solution that:

  • Creates space for outdoor terraces on every level seamlessly connected with indoor learning environments. Students gain the wellbeing benefits of access to nature, views, fresh air, natural light and a choice of learning, recreation and social spaces
  • Solves the need to maximise play and outdoor space in a vertical campus. The campus also features a globally rare example of triple stacked sports courts boasting two interior naturally ventilated courts and a third, outdoor rooftop court
  • Helps realise the Government's vision for the Fitzroy Gasworks precinct through the campus's direct integration on several levels with the Fitzroy Gasworks Sports Centre - the first vertically designed sports centre to be built in Australia - expanding community access to sports facilities in the inner north.

The vertical layout of the building opens up to double and triple height spaces, bringing together different functions physically and visually across multiple levels. Movement through the campus takes students on a journey exposing them to diverse learning opportunities.

At the campus opening in 2022 James Merlino former Deputy Premier and Minister for Education remarked, “…there is no other school like this where two senior secondary schools have come together and formed a long-standing partnership.”

Design Impact

Wurun Senior Campus expresses the Victorian Government’s commitment to build a world class education system and transform Victoria into the Education State.

This is illustrated in the project’s shortlisting in the 2023 World Architecture Festival Awards ‘Completed Building – Schools’ category. As the sole Victorian school, GHD Design and Grimshaw will be presenting Victorian education architectural innovation to a global judging panel in Singapore in November.

The campus is a finalist in the INDE.Awards and was shortlisted in the Victorian Architecture Awards in two open categories. In 2022, Wurun Senior Campus was recognised as Best Secondary School in the Victorian School Design Awards (VSBA), LEA Victoria’s New Educational Campus Award and Special Merit Award, and Engineering News Record’s Global Best Practice Awards as Best Project for Education/Research.

The campus regularly hosts design tours, sharing insights with architects, designers and educators from around the world and is a feature project in the 2023 Open House Melbourne program.

Unequivocally, the project’s foremost circular economy and sustainability gesture is social equity in its provision of innovative education facilities for local students with integrated amenities for community use, maximising a compact footprint on a rehabilitated site, leveraging public transport and community infrastructure.

Other key sustainability features comprise a performative façade, all-electric design, natural and recycled materials, green roofs, rainwater collection and rationalised steel framed structure. See circular economy and sustainability response for further information.

In addition to providing an exceptional school facility, the campus’s integrated design enables secure use by community after hours for arts, theatre, music, recreation and sport. It’s a role expected to increase in importance as the precinct develops.

Premier Dan Andrews commented at the school opening, “It’s one of the most advanced campuses we’ve ever built – and it’ll open up countless new opportunities for kids growing up in the inner north.”

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

The project’s principle circular economy and sustainability gesture is the maximisation of infrastructure by providing quality education facilities for students near their homes, with excellent access to community facilities and active transport. Wurun Senior Campus’s stepped, vertical building form makes the most of the small, irregular shaped and rehabilitated site, minimising impact on ecology.

Other key design levers to minimise consumption of natural resources and environmental impact include:

  • A performative façade solution that optimised the extent of high-performance glazing panels, horizontal overhangs and angled vertical sunshades - responding to the precise orientation of each face. This reduces solar gain and energy use for heating and cooling. Natural light is maximised while reducing glare and acoustics are controlled for enhanced user comfort.
  • Maximisation of the social infrastructure asset is amplified by the school’s design to seamlessly integrate with the adjacent community sports centre and leverage of existing community and partner school infrastructure, avoiding duplication.
  • Paving the way for the rooftop’s sports court and green space was the use of highly efficient mini plant air conditioning incorporated throughout the levels of the school, reducing ductwork and freeing up roof space. Activation and greening of the terraces and roof breaks up the building mass and lowers urban heat island effect, with rainwater collection reused for plant watering.
  • The building is net zero enabled through its all-electric design and has a solar array to reduce the campus’s grid electricity demand. Natural ventilation of the two indoor sports courts further reduces energy use.
  • Resource reduction strategies included rationalisation of the structure’s recyclable steel frame, an emphasis on durable, low maintenance and natural materials, use of products with high recycled content and Forest Stewardship Council certified timber products.

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