Albert Park College Environmental Arts Hub by Six Degrees Architects
Educational Architecture: National Award
Australian Institute of Architects
A space once dedicated to military recruitment and marching seems unlikely in a modern coed school, yet here the architects have seamlessly and respectfully brought together the 1912 Port Melbourne Naval Drill Hall and the adjacent 1887 Sandridge Post and Telegraph Office to serve as an Environmental Arts Hub for Year 9 students. The new complex forms part of a multi-centred urban school within walking distance – a good fit within the grain of the city.
A new spatial order provides flexibility and promotes collaboration, teamwork and easy connectivity between staff and two hundred pupils. Stripped of its original finishes – exposing rich materiality – the old post office houses administration, meeting and rehearsal spaces and links to both levels of the hall. New timber tiered seating was inserted into the hall and links the ground and new mezzanine floors, giving the school a lively and transformative centrepiece. The ground-floor space connecting the buildings has become a foyer, with a new contemporary front entrance.
Sustainable in the fullest sense, from the re-use of buildings to lighting and heating initiatives, and offering an inspiring and energetic facility where students study and develop artistic responses to the world’s environmental challenges, this fine project has a gentleness and rich tactility.