PEGS Junior Boys School / McBride Charles Ryan

© John Gollings

Penleigh and Essendon Junior Boys School began in an Italianate mansion on windy hill, opposite the Essendon Footy Club. This building is exceptional in a residential area where Federation housing dominates. Slowly the school has accumulated much of the property in the block bounded by Nicholson, Raleigh, Napier & Fletcher Streets. Many of the ‘houses’ are now occupied by the school. This new project, a two story year 5 & 6 block with 3 classrooms above and below, is an important addition to the school and public interface to Nicholson Street.

Architect: McBride Charles Ryan
Location: ,
Project Team: Rob McBride, Principal Architect; Debbie-Lyn Ryan, Principal Architect; Benedikt Josef, Project Manager; Amelia Borg, Natasha Maben
Engineer: Hive Engineering
Builder: Contract Control
Building Surveyor: Davis Langdon
Services Engineer: Medland Metropolis
Project Area: 1650 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of McBride Charles Ryan / John Gollings

© John Gollings

McBride Charles Ryan wanted this building to acknowledge and exploit its unusual urban condition. All wanted this building to be a unique acknowledgment of an important threshold stage in the boy’s school life. All wanted more than just good accommodation, and McBride Charles Ryan wanted a building of the imagination.


This proposal takes just the silhouette of a Federation Home, it is up-scaled, extruded and sliced. The front of the building might be described perhaps as a haunted house, the centre (the extrusion) is vaguely a Shinto Shrine, the rear (which interfaces with the schools ovals), if you squint – The Big Top.

© John Gollings

The planning is arranged so as to provide northern courtyards to the ground floor classrooms, upstairs the corridor is switched to reduce overlooking to the adjacent neighbor. The ground floor Grade 5 classrooms have rich deep colors and an earthy ambience. The first floor is ethereal. With more than a nod to Utzons Bagsvaerd Church the complex silhouette is smoothed to a cloud like shape. The extruded chimney a source of light and a means of naturally ventilating the classroom space.

© John Gollings
© John Gollings
© John Gollings

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "PEGS Junior Boys School / McBride Charles Ryan" 22 Aug 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>
  • Tosh

    The elevation drawing is probably the most successful one.

    • miesosoup

      there are no elevation drawings.

  • llama

    The building is actually pretty interesting and looks very well constructed. But lord, PLEASE, can you write just a little bit more intelligently about it!

    ” The front of the building might be described perhaps as a haunted house… the rear.. if you squint – The Big Top.”

    Did one of the school children write this post?? Grrrrr.

    • Teddy

      The building is best understood by its participants — the children. So, that kind of language is appropriate.

      • llama

        I disagree – school children are less likely to be reading about their new school on this blog than other designers and, say, future clients.

        A key skill as an architect is first in understanding who your audience is – as we have many, beyond just the user group – and then in being able to find and use the appropriate language to describe and sell your concept accordingly, and hence with the most success.

  • georg

    is this post-post-modernism?