The learning environments at Preshil are tailor made to engage, challenge and inspire children. The school is particularly well known for its architecture, which is perhaps part of the reason why the Preshil community has included many architects, builders and design practitioners.
Kindergarten And Primary School
The collection of seven buildings at the primary campus designed by the seminal Melbourne architect Kevin Borland is widely acclaimed, including in this feature in Architectural Review Australia. In 1972, Borland was awarded the RAIA bronze medal for this radical and playful series of buildings that give expression to Borland’s personal motto that “architecture is not for the faint hearted”.
Borland (whose six children attended Preshil) famously designed the buildings in collaboration with the students, whom he saw as his clients. The result is a series of extraordinary spaces that challenge and charm – completely different from the sterile classrooms that continue to be the norm today. Unexpected twists, such as secret trapdoors, mezzanines and cubby spaces encourage children to explore, and develop their physical, spatial and creative skills.
This collection of buildings were open to the public as part of our 80th birthday celebrations in 2011. Our panel featured prominent architects and Borland colleagues Peter McIntyre and John Kenny, together with education and design specialists Mary Featherston and alumni Ben Cleveland. We hope this will become a regular opportunity in our calendar of events.
The architecture of the secondary school is anchored around two grand Victorian mansions – Blackhall and Kalimna. These are enhanced by a number of specialist facilities, including the Frances Derham Arts Centre, named after the legendary pioneer of art teaching who developed her approach while on staff at Preshil in the 1930s. The Centre is designed by the prominent Australian architect Gregory Burgess. Burgess received the RAIA gold medal in 2004, one of more than 40 professional and community awards received over his career. Burgess is particularly noted for his work with indigenous communities and participatory design approach, which is evident in his work at Preshil.
In 2012, the school proudly opened a library and learning hub, designed by the award winning firm O’Connor + Houle, lead by Architect Stephen O’Connor. A radically simple approach to materials and space create a building of many talents – encouraging quiet contemplation but also exuberance and celebration – in response to the needs of students.
Imaginative And Inspiring Facilities
A central part of Preshil’s Strategic Plan is to comprehensively and sensitively improve and conserve the significant buildings for which we are responsible.
We will complete such refurbishment and remodelling necessary to safeguard their sustainability and ensure our students can enjoy truly fit-for-purpose facilities. Planning will focus on flexibility and thoughtful repurposing, respecting the values represented by the modesty and inclusiveness of spaces across the school and providing purpose-built spaces to accommodate an active student voice, performances and exhibitions.
The Arlington Conservation Management Plan is integrated into our strategy to ensure the longevity of its heritage significance and the architectural integrity of the Kevin Borland buildings. Wholly integrated and enabled IT resources are a fundamental part of our plan, as are the upgrading and maintenance of our gardens and grounds. Preshil’s active Foundation, the school’s Building Fund and a fully developed fundraising strategy will all focus on the completion of this capital works plan.