This project involves the modernisation of the Block A building at Portland Primary School, following the allocation of $1 million in funding from the 2016 State Budget. The building, erected in 1879 by the Education Department to designs by H.K. Bastow, had been modified several times from its original form and had deteriorated significantly over time. With a small budget and a compressed time program, this uninhabitable building with inadequate services and rigid, enclosed spaces was transformed into a learning centre that provides diverse educational experiences for all students.
The strategic removal of existing doors and partition walls created large openings between rooms, enabling fluid circulation, team teaching and peer support. The inclusion of collaboration and wet discovery studios provides opportunities for enquiry-based learning, significantly extending teaching opportunities within the building. Smaller spaces for independent activities are dispersed throughout the building, whilst new joinery units float within the existing volumes, providing storage and retreat spaces that are accessible from all class and circulation areas. The indoor learning spaces flow to an outdoor learning area, large enough to accommodate multiple classes and made universally accessible with hard paving surfaces. To top off the sensitive refurbishment, a lightweight verandah glides along the length of the building, sheltering students and a previously exposed façade.