dwp|suters has partnered with the NSW Department of Education and Communities to deliver Concept Design Guidelines for Multi-Level Schools in NSW, in response to the need to adapt to the densification of cities.

The guidelines, which aim to ensure future education demands and community needs are met, provide a design framework for the procurement of future multi-level school designs in the state, and outlines comprehensive education concepts, principles and spatial implications.

“Populations are growing, putting ever increasing pressure on land and communities. With reducing land area and increasing land values, it makes good sense to build higher, more flexible school campuses that are designed to support new pedagogy,” Shane Wood, Education Leader at dwp|suters, explains.

Conceived with education planners New Learning Environments, the planning principles are suitable for schools with a small footprint that respond to densely built-up, inner urban contexts.

Already the government has made moves to build such flexible, multi-storey schools in areas of need. NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli today pledged $60 million for a new high school in central Sydney, which will be built on the site of the current Cleveland Street Intensive English High School.

To include a mix of refurbished and new multi-storey buildings that accommodate up to 1,500 secondary students, this inner City campus will be completed by 2020 and tackles the lack of space in existing schools – according to the Sydney Morning Herald , inner Sydney will start to “run out of classrooms for high school students in three years”, particularly with the lack of comprehensive high schools in the CBD, and the closest in Glebe, Balmain and Alexandria Park already maximising their capacities.

The new inner Sydney school follows announcements of two high rise schools promised for Parramatta last week, and comes after a consultation strategy launched in May last year, which looked at the need for more space for high schools to cope with an anticipated 2,500 additional secondary students living in inner Sydney by 2026.

However, dwp|suters’ guidelines do not focus on merely creating more space, but maximising connectivity to support superior education outcomes within a predominantly vertical structure.

“The move to student centred learning has created a need for more flexible spaces and less fixed learning spaces. The design principles set out in the multi-level school concept focuses on a student and project centred environment that allows for physical change and the integration of media and IT,” says Wood.

“Activation of the school campus beyond school hours positions the school as a community asset. By sharing school facilities with community groups for sporting, cultural and extended educational programs, the campus becomes permeable – benefiting both the school and local community.

“They provide a fresh look at how the needs of the community, schools and government can be met within a multi-level environment. The new multi-level school design concept we have created is the first step in reimagining what schools look like.”

The guidelines develop a diverse range of spatial responses for learning communities that support many educational arrangements for a broad range of learning cohorts for both Primary and Secondary schools. 

To find out more please visit dwpsuters.com, or watch this video to find out more about the proposed design: