Wurun Senior Campus takes learning to the next level with Best Secondary School Award

Wurun Senior Campus has won the title of Best Secondary School at the 2022 Victorian School Design Awards.

Presented by the Minister for Education, Natalie Hutchins MP, the award recognises how architects make Victoria a world leader in school design and celebrates Wurun Senior Campus as an innovative, creative and practical learning environment for Victorian secondary-school students.

Designed by GHD Design and Grimshaw, Wurun Senior Campus is a new, sustainable all-electric vertical senior campus shared by up to 650 students from a program partnership between Collingwood College and Fitzroy High School. The program aims to expand the choice of subjects available and better meet the needs of students in Years 11 and 12.

Constructed as part of the regeneration of the historic Fitzroy Gasworks precinct in Melbourne’s inner north, the Wurun Senior Campus building folds around a prominent corner site so that it may integrate with the precinct’s future sports complex. The design takes advantage of this positioning, with the building form stepping up along its length to create a series of landscaped terraces and an abundance of outdoor space.

Each terrace directly connects to interior learning environments to promote a diverse pedagogical offering, while health and well-being benefit through abundant natural light, airflow, views, and recreation spaces.

The campus also features three multipurpose sports courts in an innovative stacked configuration, with the second-level sports facility designed to integrate with the adjacent sports centre (under construction). Accessible by the local community out-of-hours, it will expand the recreation options available in a dense urban setting.

The consultant team led by GHD design ran an integrated architecture and engineering design process with Grimshaw, which enabled the team to optimise structural efficiencies to support the landscaping on the terraces, have flexible interior spatial planning and lower the energy demand of the building.

Each level provides specialist settings for performing arts, art and design, technology, science, food, resources centre and sports and is designed to equip students with 21st-century skills. Connections between these specialist precincts and the general learning hubs breakdown traditional boundaries between subjects and encourage interdisciplinary learning.

The name “Wurun” (pronounced wuh-RUN) means river white gum in the language of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people, on whose traditional lands the campus is situated. In collaboration with the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, First Nations knowledge, stories, heritage and culture are embedded in the design through interpretive installations, signage, planting, colour palettes, a mural, artworks and story panels about Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elders.

Paul Thatcher, GHD Design Director of Architecture, says, “Vertical schools are emerging as more families live in dense, urban areas. The Wurun Senior Campus shows how you can maximise sport and outdoor recreation within a vertical form, design future-focused learning spaces on a constrained site and honour the culture of the Traditional Owners.”

Learn more about the project