The Sydney schools diving into unconventional design


Schools in Sydney and around the country are creating spaces designed for peak internet connectivity, creativity and collaboration.

A change is happening in classrooms - and schools - across Australia. In Sydney and other capital cities, school design is evolving to keep pace with advances in technology, growing student numbers and the need for classrooms designed to be flexible spaces for different types of learning.


Fiona Young, an architect and co-director of Hayball Sydney, says schools are moving away from the traditional "cells and bells" building design to become Innovative Learning Environments - places where internet connectivity, creativity and collaboration are all being included in the design.

"Sydney will soon be home to numerous examples of innovative learning environments, a primary example of which is the Arthur Phillip High School in Parramatta, and the Ultimo-Pyrmont Public School," says Young, who is undertaking a PhD in pedagogy and learning space design.

"They're not the traditional kind of campus, but include spaces that are more diverse, agile and purposeful, and allow for a wider range of learning and teaching styles."

Young says schools are thinking more than ever before about the integration of technology - where to place large screens for presentations; including walls that can be written on and even where to place furniture in learning spaces.

While new schools are starting from scratch when it comes to this new design, others, like Abbotsleigh in Wahroonga, are redesigning their established spaces.

Headmistress Megan Krimmer says the school has redesigned classrooms, particularly over the past few years, with a focus on flexible layouts and the latest technology. "Abbotsleigh has been a technology rich school for many years, and we continually assess what is available ... to enhance the learning of our girls."

"We have recently built a maker space area in the senior school and are in the process of building another highly innovative maker space for our girls in the Junior School.

These areas, amongst others, encourage our girls to tinker and make things without the need to be continually packing away," Krimmer says.

New spaces and new school designs are offering many benefits but also some challenges for students and teachers.

"The design of education spaces is rapidly evolving and, in some cases, there's a need for teachers to look at how they can harness these new spaces to enhance their teaching," Young says.

With rapid changes in design, schools are constantly looking to the future - what they will need to consider in the decades to come.

Vivek Wadhwa, a futurist, author and Distinguished Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, believes that technology in learning may mean schools themselves become obsolete.

Learning will happen at home instead with the use of AI and avatars as teachers.

In his book about the future of education, Driver in the Driverless Car, Wahwa noted: "My future school is the backyard of my house, and my classroom is a digital tutor with a virtual-reality headset.

"My avatar instructor is Clifford ??? Clifford is always on duty, a button-push away."

But Young is not so convinced that schools will be done away with altogether.

"It's exciting to see that there can be multiple models of schooling [learning at home and school], but I think the role of a school as a physical home of education will remain inherent, regardless of where people choose to learn."

Where to buy


26/119-123 York Street, Sydney, New South Wales.26/119-123 York Street, Sydney, New South Wales. Photo: Supplied

This warehouse-style apartment in the heart of Sydney has plenty of room for your family to move and grow.

It's directly across from the Queen Victoria Building and a short trip by car or public transport to Ultimo-Pyrmont Public School.

The auction price guide for the spread is $2.5 million. Boutique Property Agents agent Tolga Ozer has set the date on September 30.

See more of 26/119-123 York Street here

North shore


6 Halcyon Avenue, Wahroonga, New South Wales.6 Halcyon Avenue, Wahroonga, New South Wales. Photo: Supplied

Set across 923 square metres, this contemporary residence is footsteps from Abbotsleigh and Knox Grammar, two schools high on many parents' wish-lists.

???The Hugh Tuffley-designed home is one kilometre from Warrawee station.

Expect to pay around $3.695 million through Di Jones Real Estate North Shore agent Tim Fraser.

See more of 6 Halcyon Avenue here or download the Domain app to find more family-friendly listings

The story The Sydney schools diving into unconventional design first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.


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