Setting the Foundations for the Future: The New Port Melbourne Secondary College

Port Melbourne Secondary College is on track to open early 2021. The state-of-the-art secondary education development will give the Port Melbourne community a new, forward-thinking learning culture that celebrates innovation, sustainability, and technology.

Designed by BLP, the new Port Melbourne Secondary College aspires to develop empathetic, socially responsible students by instilling an understanding of their role in their local community and as global citizens. Community connectedness will be aspired to, with locations for communal groups to get together and partake in each other’s ideas, cultures, and accomplishments.

The overarching design concept is to take the user on a journey from ground to rooftop which symbolically references the transitional nature of the past; where migrants travelled from sea to shore, built their homes on the land and worked their way to new heights, and into the future. This is reflective of how students navigate their way through the STEAM focused curriculum, starting the whole process again into workplaces and social networks.

“By celebrating the fluidity of learning the design of Port Melbourne Secondary College blurs the intersection between life at school and the years beyond. The interior design interweaves the past into the present by activating the transitional spaces and creating fluid connections between the indoor and outdoor – blurring the boundaries of education.” – Edwina Ter | Associate | Interior Design Lead

The interiors aim to promote creativity, curiosity, and critique by incorporating display spaces to highlight student work in various areas of the building. Subtle references to the site’s fishing and transient past are woven into the design through colour, texture, and graphics.

A paired back ‘university-style’ aesthetic incorporates muted hues and subdued tones, paring back the interior to be more inclusive and blurring the boundaries between secondary and tertiary education. All interior finishes have been selected to withstand and endure daily contact with students and other end users of the school such as oriented strand board and rubber flooring along the central circulation stair.

Inspired by the sea, the wayfinding palette is a nod to Fisherman’s Bend’s past. The arrival on the beach, the building of their lives on new land, and the constant pursuit of improvement are all part of the story. As you move up the building, the interiors change with you, reflecting the progression from water to sand to land to sky.

“Port Melbourne Secondary College’s unique identity honours the area’s maritime history, industrial past, proximity to the ocean and Spirit of Tasmania ferry. Sand dune formations present in the area prior to European settlement are depicted in the material treatments on the south and east façades, while the colour palette of the metal façade panels reference the local shipping container yards.”. – Former Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell

The central staff hub is at the heart of the building’s architecture, giving staff unobstructed views of the learning areas from their desks. The central location of circulation promotes wayfinding and serves as an intersection for all of the building’s wings, allowing students and employees to congregate and move around the complex, cross paths and ideas together, and socialisation to take place.

The activation of interstitial spaces blurs the lines between spaces. With bleachers to the side, the central stairwell becomes a lively zone where cohorts can converse, watch a presentation, study in groups, or listen to an informal lecture. Individual and small group breakout areas are integrated into the circulation path and alongside teaching spaces, improving the student experience while also providing opportunities for staff and students to participate in individual learning.

Large windows provide for plenty of natural light and ventilation, as well as expansive views, which adds to the student experience. On all floors, all classroom areas have been designed with access to an outdoor terrace, allowing students and teachers to work and learn in a natural setting.

Port Melbourne Secondary College is a ground-breaking educational development – a world-class vertical campus that will encourage inquisitive learning, collaboration and independence akin with higher education.

Setting the Foundations for the Future: The New Port Melbourne Secondary CollegeAdelaide Bell