A first look inside Hayball's South Melbourne Primary School

Despite the planning uncertainty swirling around Fishermans Bend, the urban renewal area can now boast a world-beating and fully complete Primary School.

To mark the completion of South Melbourne Primary School (SMPS), project architects Hayball have commissioned new imagery of the complex. Melbourne-based architecture photographer Dianne Snape was tasked with capturing SMPS in use, in the process providing the wider public with a first glimpse of the project's internals.

After receiving the Future Project of the Year gong during the 2016 World Architecture Festival Awards, SMPS was handed over to contractor ADCO Constructions with completion achieved for term one 2018. Public plaza and landscaping works were completed thereafter.

The Ferrars Street complex is Victoria’s first high-rise state school and now caters for 160 students, although the six-level building will build up to a capacity of 525 primary school students and 44 early learning students, supplemented by various integrated community services and facilities.

SMPS is now a working education facility

SMPS - the broader context

This school is an exemplar of a contemporary 21st century learning environment, developed within the context of inner urban regeneration and focussing on the needs of today’s students and also the wider community.

With enrolments for prep at capacity before even opening the doors, the need for such a facility in the area is clear. Similarly, we’re excited to see the support from the broader community who have embraced this new integrated model of school wholeheartedly.

The school operates as a genuine community hub. Nowhere is this more apparent than at ground level where there are no fences separating the school from its surrounds.

With thousands of new residents flocking to the adjacent Fishermans Bend precinct each year – and space a scarcity in the inner-city – it was important to design facilities that can be used outside of school hours and have a greater use to the community.

Richard Leonard, Director at Hayball
A dynamic view beyond the sandbox

The building's large footprint and vertical nature allowed Hayball to include spaces unique to the schooling environment.

A feature that has become commonplace in many contemporary institutional designs across Melbourne makes its debut within SMPS. A large-scale atrium with tiered seating and a 'showcase' staircase become the focal point for the immediate area.

A meeting space, teaching space and auditorium seating as required, the atrium is representative of the multifunctional nature of SMPS.

Similarly, the traditional classroom is on the outer, with spaces arranged around “learning communities” to facilitate both aged-based and stage-based learning groups.

The indoor 'piazza' with staircase to the roar

SMPS - outdoor spaces a necessity

Above the indoor gym, we have an outdoor sports area so kids can play typical ball games they love – of course there’re nets surrounding the play area so balls don’t fly off the roof!

There’s also a climbing play structure called ‘The Treehouse’ which allows vertical connection between the outdoor learning areas on levels two and three, promoting exercise and active play as well as connecting levels.

All in all, we’ve turned the horizontal school yard into a vertical play centre, so kids are not missing out on the best parts of going to school, which for them is playing and being active with their friends.

Richard Leonard, Director at Hayball

Further images by Dianne Snape can be seen in the slideshow below

SMPS is now fully complete

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