The existing site of the Whyalla Special School comprised a mixture of semi-permanent, transportable buildings originating from the mid-1970ʼs. Tectvs was given the task to start fresh on the site to create an exciting and safe learning environment. The choice to redevelop from scratch was chosen to avoid long term issues regarding the costly removal of asbestos from existing structures - and given the delicate nature of the client - enabled the project to adopt a safety-first approach. Therefore, the project brief focused on creating both a sense of place within the community and a learning environment that would allow for increased student growth. A simple, safe, cost effective structure was required to serve as a gathering place for families and the community.
Responding to the needs of the context and the client were critical for the project. Tectvs adopted a durable, low maintenance and residential-styled material palette throughout. This considered approach enabled improved safety for the school’s patrons and importantly allowed local trades and expertise to be used during the construction phase.
The project presented Tectvs with a site that posed significant disability access issues that made it difficult to conform to the current disability requirements - as well as hindering the relationship and links between the school itself, and both the Whyalla Tafe College and University of South Australia. Pavilion-like structures provide movement pathways and introduce shade, bringing a dialogue to the open spaces surrounding the new structures.
To create a sense of place, bricks were cleverly used as a repeatable yet decorative element. Finishes and colour selections brought indigenous aspects into the design that were extended to the surrounding landscape, embracing various sustainability principles. The school now presents itself as a striking place of learning within the community.