Location101 Shaws Rd, Werribee VIC 3030, Australia
Architect in ChargeLaurence Robinson and Gerard McCurry
Text description provided by the architects. Wyndham Central College is a transformational success story, going from an underachieving School with no sense of community or pride to the vibrant and connected campus it is today. Located in Werribee, Australia – the College has undergone a rebranding exercise that has turned this government-run secondary school into something more akin to one of Melbourne’s privately run colleges. The revitalisation left no part of the school untouched, from the uniform, to the name to the physical buildings and landscape.
Before 2012, Wyndham Central College, then called Galvin Park Secondary, was a school in trauma. Many of the buildings suffered severe storm damage and had to be closed, resulting in the need to bus students off-site for classes. In 2010 an Extended Diagnostic Review of the College painted a picture of poor student learning outcomes, engagement and pathways, low staff morale and poor community perception. The school was underachieving, in the 10th percentile of government schools.
Brand Architects were appointed in mid-2012. To begin the engagement process they took staff on guided visits to other leading Victorian schools. The College community found this a fantastic beginning as it empowered staff to articulate their goals and aspirations for their new learning spaces.
It was the College’s educational vision to endeavour to rebrand the entire campus within the fixed budget provided by the government. New cladding materials, render over the old brown bricks and splashes of colour freshened the facades of the old 1970’s buildings. Existing buildings were steel-framed with concrete floor slabs, enabling them to be stripped and spaces repurposed to suit a modern curriculum. Through reusing, recycling and adapting, the embodied energy of this project was kept low.
The refurbished buildings are now unrecognisable, their long, dark corridors with low ceilings have been eliminated and are now light-filled collaborative learning areas linking together teaching spaces and nooks for small group learning. The old library was converted into a new Performing Arts Auditorium and Music Centre – arts is now a major drawcard for enrolments at the College.
Although most of the project focused on refurbishment, two entirely new buildings were constructed. At the most prominent corner of the College the new Administration building provides a welcoming fresh face for the College, and the Gymnasium, with its dedicated weights room, is very popular with the students.
New landscaped areas were created by the demolition of several buildings at the centre of campus, creating a new open air amphitheatre and planted woodland with raised boardwalk. This became the new ‘heart’ to the school, a space that the whole school community can gather for outdoor assemblies, open-air learning and student recreation.
Truly a success story, Wyndham Central College is now one of the most improved schools in the state of Victoria for VCE completion, up 10% in the last 5 years. The change in student engagement is reflected in the strong data sets and extremely low levels of absenteeism. Students feel a strong sense of pride in their school, knowing that their education experience is valued, and that their learning needs are being met.
Product Description. The use of Omniglaze painted surface on the landscape and the buildings has been instrumental in giving a new definition to the architecture of the school. The use of bright and bold colours such as blue, red and yellow aim to reinvigorate the look of the school and ties the whole precinct together in one coherent manner. The painted surface carries forward the architectural language expressed in the buildings around the school.