Sandeep Amin, an architect with DesignInc, introduced a recent presentation in Sydney explaining the responsibility he felt investing public money for future generations. He talked about two school projects:
  • Ultimo Pyrmont School
  • Lindfield Learning Village
The Ultimo Pyrmont School, on a steep block, was totally refurbished in 2002. Fifteen years later it is being demolished and completely replaced. With 300 students from Kindergarten to Year 6 the new facilities are expected to cater for 800 students.
So how do you demolish an existing school with 300 students and build another? A 'pop-up' school has been created across the road in a public park with the new school expected to be opened in 2020. This use of a local park I imagine would not be an option available to non-Government schools!

When surveyed it was found very few students lived in a house with a yard. Almost all lived in apartments. This is not surprising given that the school is located a few hundred metres from Sydney's Darling Harbour and Chinatown. Approximately 73% of students speak a language other than English with around 38% of students speaking Chinese. The inclusion of deep planting with trees and sunlit spaces was considered important aspects of the school in such a densely populated urban environment.
Incorporating public access spaces for a covered market area and a full basketball court means the local community will be able to use some of the facilities outside of school hours. This is something I believe more schools should explore.

The second project presented by Sandeep Amin was converting the former Ku-ring-gai campus of UTS (University of Technology Sydney) where I did my Business Degree into a school. “The building is heritage-listed and its adaptation will bring it up to current codes, accommodating around 2,000 students and 200 teachers. Its upgrade will harmonise with the existing building language, while additions will be clearly expressed in new geometries and materials.”

With many local public schools overcrowded this conversion will relieve some pressure but also potentially attract a broader demographic of the community with its innovative spaces and attempts at staged based, rather than age based, learning. The dramatic Brutalist architecture of concrete is being softened with colour, roof top playgrounds and learning spaces.