Penleigh and Essendon Grammar Senior School - The Infinity Centre
- McBride Charles Ryan
- Rachelle Road, 3033, Keilor East
- 1M - 100M
- 1-5 Stories
The Infinity Centre, the new campus for Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School senior students, is derived from the initial idea that the library, a learning hub, is central to the school. We also wanted a building that offered protection from a windswept site and signified the merging of two schools, Penleigh Presbyterian Ladies' College and Essendon Grammar School for boys. The idea of infinite learning became the mantra. Radiating out from the library are specialist precincts and a variety of learning spaces. Each wing then returns to link up, forming cloisters and the resulting plan of an infinity symbol. Being structured around two protected courtyards has enhanced the learning space’s access to light, ventilation and view.
Each wing has its own qualities, different from each other and yet seamlessly connected to the next. In this way the building acts as an embodiment of the journey of education, with less distinction of any prescribed boundaries between disciplines. The colour strategy reinforces the identity of the academic disciplines, universally enhanced by the richness of natural materials such as locally recycled timber, resulting in a variety of spaces and volumes encased within a unifying skin not unlike a collection of villages within a walled citadel with its gardens and ceremonial arches.
PEGS Senior School utilises a repeatable construction methodology and everyday materials and techniques to create an exceptional and bespoke result delivered at two-thirds the equivalent benchmark budget. To guarantee the sustainability of the school building well into the future; on-going maintenance was minimised through the choice and location of robust materials and the arrangement of structure so that classrooms remain adaptable and flexible.
The courtyards within the infinity Centre allude to the cloisters of noted educational institutions in the Oxbridge mould. These courtyards offer protection from the extremes of climate experienced on the site. This creates formal and informal places to work and to relax, to gather, and to share knowledge, stories and ideas and further extending the possibility of learning even beyond the classroom walls. Structuring the classrooms around the protected courtyards has enhanced the learning space’s access to light, ventilation and view. As well as reducing the reliance upon artificial lighting, heating and cooling, this access to fresh air importantly reduces CO2 levels in classrooms and refreshes students so that they are ready to learn once they enter the space. The social benefit of a building like PEGS Senior School is tangible in the significant improvement it contributes to the public realm, adding to the richness of its urban environment. The simplicity of the plan arrangement provides a variety of teaching spaces, thereby empowering teaching staff with opportunity and flexibility to cater to the students' individual needs.