design competition

AURA has taken part in the international design ideas competition for demountable school buildings run by Future Proofing Schools, the Melbourne School of Design and Incubator.

Competition submission statement:

To order the many attributes of space and envelope that surround children, so that they can learn ‘a life of engagement, the meaningful life’…….and then!  To dismantle, transport and re-establish this order to the same, similar level in another location, another setting, another context.

The design ideas within, explore adaptability and movement of these orders when it is to be re-located outside of its ‘normal habitat’ or range of tolerance habitat.

It also explores identity.  How to create an envelope that is not only comfortable in it’s setting and enhances comfort of its occupants, but is also comfortable with itself.

To challenge ideas of adaptability within one working method, two sites with very different cultural and physical contexts have been chosen namely: primary schools in Melbourne & Darwin.

planning + organisation

To enable an ‘organic’ envelope to grow and shrink as needs change, a simplified elemental geometry base template was devised and knitted together in axes and staggered and grouped in transferrable replicable units.  The benefits became apparent as models evolved and were tested as follows:

Open ended perpendicular and diagonal adaptive expansion potential.

Economy in limiting the number of components simplifying re-use and adaptation.

Inherent structural bracing and stability in transport and expanded composition.

Opportunities to leverage local irregularities and optimise flexibility in the organisation of functional space.

A staggered underlay leverages the potential for roof and floor modules to easily break out of the box mode and strengthen outdoor connections in the form of verandahs, entrance canopies, loggias, etc.

Overlayed on this template are fully fitted prefab modules for services, amenities, wet areas and storage to slot in to suit.  Roof volumes can be lifted to create mezzanine levels.  Back to back clerestory roof frames take the role of upper floor bearers.   Expandable layout creates opportunities to grow to a SWIS model with staff and community areas.

The structure is a combination of flat pack wall and floor panels, height adjustable steel piers,

‘smart columns’ and service pack roof modules. Units are a manageable size in production, transport, storage and maintenance.  Assembly is akin to stage building and modules can be lifted into position by an all terrain fork lift.

site tests

The two models show 3 learning spaces configured into two very different volumes.  The Melbourne model is compact with workspaces to suit different learning styles.  The central dividing partition can be slid open to form one large space for combined activities.

The Darwin model is a stretched linear floor plan orientated on an east-west axis to reduce the impact of sun and maximise ventilation. The main learning spaces have been separated. Groups can interchange spaces according to activity.  There is a maximum retention of components from the Melbourne to the Darwin model with minor additions.

The result has notions of a robust workshop combined with a 21st century sophisticated colourful cladding; an identity that is comfortably placed in either an urban or outback setting.


future proofing schools design competition - sample