Families in Melbourne’s booming inner suburbs will soon have access to a new school as preparation for construction begins on the first vertical high school in Victoria.
Richmond High School will cater for 650 Year seven to 12 students across two sites, with a four-storey academic precinct on the Highett Street site and sports precinct on Gleadell Street.
The Gleadell Street site will initially be a multi-purpose campus and will open for year seven students in 2018, with the Highett Street campus set to open in 2019.
Once the second campus opens, the Gleadell Street site will become a full-time sports precinct and include four competition-standard netball courts.
Premier Daniel Andrews, Minister for Education James Merlino and Member for Richmond Richard Wynne joined local community members to mark the start of construction of the $43 million Richmond High School.
“Whether you live in the inner city, the outer suburbs or regional Victoria, we’re making sure every child has the opportunity for the best start in life – and access to a great local school," Mr Andrews said.
Mr Wynne said Richmond High School will offer first-class education for local kids, and great community facilities, including netball courts, conveniently close to public transport.
Hayball Director David Tweedie, who was responsible for the design of Richmond High School, said the brief for the school was based around community, diversity, wellbeing, sustainability, safety, technology and ensuring learners are at the centre of everything.
“A key approach has been to design for ‘learning communities’ - flexible, adaptable spaces accommodating up to 108 children which incorporate specific functionalities. We wanted the possibility for these learning communities to be combined allowing a number of school structures – two sub schools, middle / senior school, or year level groupings.
"Simply put, we developed two floors of these learning communities for general learning that sit on different levels to the spaces for specialist subjects such as science, technology and arts. This way, you’ve got equitable access to general learning areas and specialist learning areas.”
“A challenge when creating a school that sits across a number of levels is always, how do we ensure it feels welcoming, and what defines it as a ‘school’? Our strategy was firstly to focus on locating all the functions that invite school community participation on the ground floor – the library, the performing arts spaces, and spaces for sharing food, and secondly to make visible from the outside the activities of the school – including science spaces and outdoor learning," he said.
“We were concerned that the building felt like one place, a holistically integrated place for learning – spaces needed to be purposeful and well defined, but interconnected. The atrium building form that we’ve developed has allowed this while providing light and air to the interior spaces.”
Inaugural Principal Colin Simpson, alumnus of the original Richmond High School, will start work this month and will spend the next 12 months developing a clear vision for school, appointing staff, building relationships with the community and working closely with the architects and builders.
Richmond High School is one of 42 new government schools in the construction pipeline – including 10 that opened this year – following a record $1.8 billion investment by the Labor Government in new schools and school upgrades around the state.