Founded in 1901 and situated on Queensland's beautiful Gold Coast, The Southport School (TSS) is not only acknowledged as one of the region's most prestigious private schools, but it's also admired and revered for its impressive Scottish Baronial inspired architecture.
With this in mind, when architects Burling Brown were commissioned to design the new Dodds and Sheil Buildings, the key objective was to deliver on the school’s Building for the Future Campaign - a building program that would modernise and dramatically enhance the school's academic facilities, whilst maintaining an aesthetic that integrated seamlessly with the school’s existing buildings and traditional architectural style.
The planning for these new "academic centres of excellence" began back in 2009. According to Brian Kidd, Burling Brown Architects director, the process was consultative and engaging, involving all stakeholders to ensure the vision outlined in the school’s master plan would achieve its academic and architectural objectives.
He also proudly points out that Burling Brown’s association with The Southport School now spans about four decades. It is this solid partnership that undoubtedly contributes to the cohesive architectural language that now pervades the school's campus.
Both the Dodds and Sheil Buildings were essentially ‘knockdown-rebuilds’. In the case of the Sheil Building, the new structure replaced a somewhat austere precast concrete/aggregate and aluminium classroom, so typical of institutional buildings in the 1960s - although functional, hardly sympathetic to the surrounding buildings within the school’s historic precinct.
With a clear vision in mind, Burling Brown Architects looked to the school’s historic Clock Tower Building as a reference point, adopting its articulated facade, steeply pitched rooflines, deep shaded balconies, detailed timber joinery and render treatments into the new construction. Binding all these alternate building elements together is the deep rich colour and texture of the Black & Tan face bricks, which were used as the predominant exterior wall cladding material.
PGH Black & Tan bricks have a chameleon-like characteristic which transcend time, mimicking the look of traditional hand-crafted bricks, whilst providing the durability and precise tolerances expected from modern-day brick manufacturing processes.
To complement the overall design, thousands of Gledswood Blend Single Cants from the PGH Dry Pressed collection were incorporated in the build, providing both visual interest and load bearing support for the schools many wrap-around balconies.
Additionally, the Sheil Building, which houses the schools new Centre for Teaching Excellence, Drama and Robotics classrooms combines Gledswood Blend face bricks, Black & Tan face bricks and Gledswood Blend Cant bricks to great effect, adding contrast and depth to the multi-layered walls, infill panels, piers and landscape treatments.
The Southport School is located on a multi-hectare site that backs onto the Nerang River, is minutes away from the Gold Coast’s favourite theme parks, and most significantly, is only 1.5km from Southport’s main beach.
As idyllic as this location may be, coastal environments do present builders and architects with significant product performance and ongoing maintenance challenges. Hence, all the face bricks selected for The Southport School were not only specified for their colour, texture and shape, but also their exposure grade rating, ensuring long-term durability of the educational facilities.
With stage one and two of the ‘Building for the future campaign’ now complete, the school’s focus will turn to the third and final stage of the building program - its new lecture theatre.
This theatre will provide senior school students with an introduction to university-style teaching and learning, providing the ideal platform to prepare them for the transition to tertiary education.
All bricks are from PGH Bricks and Pavers .