Arched openings bring students past shimmering tiled buildings and into landscaped courtyards at this grammar school near Melbourne by Australian architects McBride Charles Ryan (slideshow).
Completed at the end of 2012, Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School (PEGS) Senior is the second building designed by McBride Charles Ryan for the school, following a boys junior school shaped like the silhouette of three overlapping houses.
For PEGS Senior, the architects devised a figure-of-eight plan with a sequence of classrooms around the edges, a library at the centre and two courtyards within the voids. This layout allows every route to lead back to the library and also creates outdoor spaces that are protected from strong winds.
"The project is based on an infinity symbol, a shape that allows the facility to be structured around two protected courtyards," explain the architects. "The building is an embodiment of the journey of education and the crossover between disciplines."
Swathes of colour streak across the walls, floors and ceilings of rooms in both wings as part of a colour strategy to help students to differentiate between each department.
Glazed ceramic tiles in bands of grey and black give the school its shimmering outer skin, while the same shades are repeated across the cladding panels of the courtyard elevations. Some details are picked out in timber, including the underside of arches and louvred window screens.
The two separate courtyards contain a mixture of grassy mounds, hard landscaping, rock gardens, trees and curvy benches.
"This variety of spaces and volumes [is] not dissimilar to a walled citadel with its gardens and ceremonial arches," add the architects.
Photography is by John Gollings, apart from where otherwise indicated.
Here's some more information from McBride Charles Ryan:
The Infinity Centre, Keilor East
The Infinity Centre, the new campus for Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School senior students, is derived from the initial idea that the library, a learning hub, is central to the school. We also wanted a building that offered protection from a windswept site and signified the merging of two schools.
Radiating out from the library, along the length of the form, are specialist precincts and a variety of learning spaces. Each wing then returns to link up, forming cloisters and the resulting plan of an infinity symbol. Being structured around two protected courtyards has enhanced the learning space's access to light, ventilation and view.
Each wing has its own qualities, different from each other and yet seamlessly connected to the next. In this way the building acts as an embodiment of the journey of education, with less distinction of any prescribed boundaries between disciplines. The colour strategy reinforces the identity of the academic disciplines, universally enhanced by the richness of natural materials, such as locally recycled timber. Planning allows the building's circulation to constantly return to the library at its heart, and in this way is physically and experientially in parallel with the educational ethos of the school.
This variety of spaces and volumes, not dissimilar to a walled citadel with its gardens and ceremonial arches, are encased within a unifying skin. The outer wall of the building is clad with glazed bricks, a material that offers protection, beauty, gravitas, and imbues the impressive form with a sense of permanence. The banded brickwork pattern aids in reading the shape of the building, adding complexity and delight as the sun catches the silver through the day.
Project team: Rob McBride, Debbie Ryan, Andrew Hayne, Drew Williamson, Qianyi Lim, Peter Ryan, Stephan Bekhor, Anthony Parker, Amelia Borg, Natasha Maben, Benedikt Josef, Alan Ting, Luke Waldron, Jacqui Robbins, Daniel Griffin, Seung Hyuk Choi, Angela Woda
Area: 8000 m2