Completion Date: December 2015


Ivanhoe Grammar Senior Years & Science, Melbourne, Australia
McBride Charles Ryan

Ivanhoe Grammar School is a co-educational school which was first established in Ivanhoe in 1920. The Plenty Campus of Ivanhoe Grammar School was, until quite recently, surrounded by a rural setting punctuated by magnificent red river gums. Despite the encroaching suburbs, the school has retained a character where the Australian native landscape flavour dominates the campus.

The brief was for a new Science and Senior Years Centre. This included a variety of general learning areas, provision for the senior year teachers and a science centre which was to be also used by the younger students in the school.

The angular geometry of the mosaic of interior learning spaces, contrasts with the pure geometry of the circular plan; their vivid colours a counter to the muted landscape-inspired tones of the enclosing drum form. At key entry points the drum is eroded to reveal, reflect, and celebrate the wonders of science and learning.

The circular shaped plan adopted for the building had an appropriate civic quality which built upon the schools original masterplan. However, rather than adopting a circular or radial pattern they chose to overlay an angular geometry. This overlay was used to define the central courtyards, the light wells and a mosaic of learning spaces. The geometry contrasts with the building’s circular shape, highlighting key entry points and providing a distinction between the outer world (singular, civic, circular and executed in a muted landscape palate) and the inner world (complex, dynamic, expressive and colourful). The idea of the Thunder Egg came to mind; in the Thunder Egg the innocuous shell belies the complex and colourful wonder of its inner core.

The key characteristics of the learning spaces were transparency, variety of spatial type, multiple-use, flexibility, adaptability, and interconnectivity between the learning spaces and to the outside environment. The contrast so evident in this building’s language encapsulates the contemporary methodologies for a well-rounded education. The circular form is classical, representing order, and the certainty of knowledge – the building’s inner world, with its expressive and complex mosaic of spaces, represents the uncertainty and complexity of modern life and scientific understanding, and the necessity of the qualities of wonder and imagination to advance and see us through. Another inspiration came from Kaleidoscopes, where a view ‘into’ reveals seemingly infinite combinations of colour and pattern.

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