Fitzroy High School is the school community that dug in. They are a force to be reckoned with. To us they seemed forged by their past with an attitude that they still maintain: stay true to what you aspire to until you realise it.
They believed in a better way of teaching and they made it happen. They believed that their emphasis on the arts makes them profoundly different; it does. Their educational rationale is elaborate and erudite. They selected us as architects, sensing that we would listen to them. They put their belief in us. They even applauded our presentations.
Architecture is necessarily complex, yet from a client’s perspective this is not always the case. Here, for our client, the new senior school effectively boiled down to a couple of things. Internally, the building’s spaces and their arrangement were to be an active partner in improving the educational outcomes of the young people it served.
Externally, the building was to communicate to the larger community what it believed itself to be. As one parent succinctly put it, this building needed to have a bit of ‘zing’. All else were givens. And so to find a kind of hand-in-glove response to these two requirements – a shape and space that reflected their use, yet appeared profoundly different – was more than just a little satisfying. To the outside observer it is a building slavishly designed from an external perspective. To the inside occupier, vice versa. Both are right. Both are wrong.
This is what a wall can do. This building is little more, and little less. A wall.
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