A humble public secondary school in the culturally diverse outer south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne has seen an existing gymnasium intended for demolition transformed into a state-of-the-art senior learning centre by WOWOWA.
Set deep in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, almost 50 minutes from the CBD, Hampton Park does not have the beach views, leafy milieu or the distinguished historical heritage that are most typically associated with significant architecture projects. But it has something even better: a community rich in diversity. According to the 2016 Census, almost as many residents of Hampton Park have parents who were born overseas as those who were born in Australia. While diverse communities are shown to be the strongest, most connected and most supportive, they are all too often the ones left behind when it comes to public service provision and infrastructure. For this reason, the Hampton Park Secondary College Senior Learning Centre project is an important investment in community.
Disregarding the tired, dull tones often associated with public school buildings, WOWOWA has injected vibrancy and life into the design
WOWOWA has converted an existing gym into an eye-catching dedicated learning space – one with all the technological and pedagogical bells and whistles. “The design celebrated elements of the existing space to create a unique adult learning environment for VCE and VCAL students,” explains WOWOWA Director Scott Woodward, who describes it as an “adaptive re-use project”. Disregarding the tired, dull tones often associated with public school buildings, WOWOWA has injected vibrancy and life into the design. Upon entering, one passes through an extended tunnel in which every surface – floor, ceiling, wall – is a blazing orange, a visual wakeup call indicating that one should be prepared for a different kind of learning environment.
At the other end of the transition, it opens to reveal the previous gymnasium structure, the existing features of high ceilings and skylights given new life in the invigorated design. The original floorboards of the old gym have been retained and rejuvenated creating a multi-use space, equally apt for throwing a basketball or sitting and enjoying some lunch. Accessible from here, past the ‘Gumby’-reminiscent columns or up the eucalypt-green stairs and balcony, are a series of flexible classrooms, easily transformable to accommodate the ever-changing and often complex experience of VCE (Years 11 and 12) education.
This is just the first of the three stage Hampton Park Secondary College Masterplan, a project that will also see a new STEAM facility, along with a wellness centre and upgraded administration facilities. For Hampton Park Senior Secondary students, such world-class amenities represent the tangible impact that design can have on learning outcomes.
Outstanding architecture doesn’t just look good, it inspires. This is exactly what WOWOWA has achieved here with the Senior Learning Centre, bringing in bright, invigorating colours and open, well-lit spaces to stir the minds of the next generation of Hampton Parkers.