An international competition to design NSW’s first high-rise school has been run and won, with Grimshaw Architects and BVN Architecture coming out ahead of a formidable bunch of runners up.

Designs for the new Arthur Phillip High School (APHS) and neighbouring Parramatta Public School (PPS) have now been revealed by the State Government who announced almost a year ago that they would build NSW’s first high-rise school if they were given a mandate to sell the state's electricity poles and wires at the next election.

They sold the poles and now 2,000 APHS students can look forward to moving into a new state-of-the-art 14-storey secondary school by 2019. Across the road, 1,000 PPS students will undergo their primary education each year within a four-storey curvilinear building that wraps an outdoor learning area and playground.


Grimshaw and BVN beat entries from Australia’s Architectus, Lyons, Lahznimmo/Wilson Architects as well as one joint entry from Dutch-based 3XN and Woods Bagot.

To accommodate the needs of the high-number of students, the architects have divided the buildings into groups or "home bases" which will accommodate 330 students in the high school and 280 in the primary school. It is believed that this, in combination with the height and scale of the buildings, means that the schools can cope with a larger population but still make a learning environment similar to a smaller school.


According to Andrew Cortese, lead design architect and Grimshaw's Sydney managing partner, this also shows how schools can increase their capacity and cope with the rise in populations whilst freeing up outdoor space.

"It's a combination of having schools respond to population density and using existing assets much more," Cortese told the AFR.

 "You can have the same or more accessibility to outdoor learning spaces and much more purpose-designed learning spaces."

Images: Courtesy of Grimshaw