Branch Studio Architects embellishes school "flyover" with concertinaed Corten screen

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This weathering steel bridge by Branch Studio Architects spans a quadrangle at a secondary school in Melbourne's western suburbs, forming an art gallery and viewpoint for students en route to class (+ slideshow).

Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects

The Melbourne studio was asked to overhaul the pre-existing neglected corridor, converting it into the Flyover Gallery. The structure bridges the 21-metre gap between the science and art departments at the Caroline Chisholm College in the Melbourne suburb of Braybrook.

Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects

To encourage students to take pride in the space, the architects wanted to create a new facade. They added two bands of zigzagging perforated Corten steel on either side of a long strip window to form the bridge's new bow-shaped facade.

Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects

"It was often only inhabited by the remnants of snack rappers left by students during recess and between classes," they said.

Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects

"The school's only request: to make it look 'good', seemed to hugely undermine the vast possibility of such a project," they added. "The Flyover was to be the centrepiece of a large overhaul of an existing quadrangle within the heart of the school campus."



The architects wanted the structure to act as more than a route from A to B. So to encourage students to linger, and to strike up a connection between the science and art departments, they took design pointers from the pedestrian bridges they visited on a recent trip to Europe.

Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects

Among their disparate references are the Prince's Balcony on the Doge's Palace in Venice and The Ponte Vecchio in Florence, as well as the geological landscapes in Iceland and indigenous caves in Australia.

Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects

"A recent trip to Europe and Iceland, prior to taking on the commission, sparked a series of ideas and conceptual references," they explained. "Conceptually, the space is conceived as a geological cave injected by art."

Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects

Student artworks are displayed in five recessed boxes along one side of the courtyard, while a lookout point is aligned with a statue of the school's namesake – the humanitarian Caroline Chisholm.

Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects

The speckled pattern created by the Corten cladding and the contrasting black-painted cement board beneath were translated onto the fritted skylight that runs above the artworks.

Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects

"The small circular screens on the Bridge of Sighs in Venice sparked the idea for a screened external fabric," explained the architects.

Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects

"An abstracted version of the graphical based prints of American artist Christopher Wool provided a balanced, common middle ground between the representation of scientific diagrams and dot art to inform the perforation pattern to the external steel cladding."

Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects

On the other side of the corridor there is a continuous strip window overlooking the quadrangle, and a bench that is intended to allow impromptu classes to be taken within the space.

Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects

Branch Studio Architects is co-directed by architects ​​​Brad Wray and Nicholas Russo. The studio previously designed a lakeside pump house in rural Victoria, and a timber extension to a Melbourne school.

Photography is by Peter Clarke.


Project credits:

Architect: Brad Wray – Branch Studio Architects
Project team: Brad Wray
Client: Caroline Chisholm College
BCA class: 9B
Building contract: ABIC Simple Works
Builder: Behmer & Wright
Steel contractor: SP McLean
Structural engineer: Perrett Simpson Stantin
Building surveyor: Michel Group

Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects
Isometric diagram – click for larger image
Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects
Location plan – click for larger image
Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects
Plan – click for larger image
Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects
Short sections – click for larger image
Flyover Gallery in Caroline Chisholm College by Branch Studio Architects
Long section – click for larger image
  • Leo

    This is very beautiful. But now the buildings around the bridge seem to need an overhaul.

  • Nice facade!