By Wayne Stephens | Partner at ClarkeHopkinsClarkeAustralia’s rapidly growing population requires a smarter, more sustainable and community orientated approach to placemaking. The creation of new outer ring suburbs, particularly in Melbourne, has seen an influx of development to meet this demand, from housing estates to transport options and retail offerings.
While new housing is required to cater for Melbourne’s rapidly growing population, what is often overlooked in this process is the need for infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and parks to support new residents. A successful and vibrant community relies on the creation of strong and numerous social connections, which is dependent on amenities that evoke a sense of place.
At ClarkeHopkinsClarke, we see education as integral to the success of these growth areas. School precincts strengthen town centres, deliver friendly and familiar civic landmarks within barren estates, and provide desperately needed community resources. Developing these facilities is the difference between a ‘dormitory suburb’ or ‘commuter town’ where residents simply come home to sleep, and a thriving community that residents are proud to call home.
New schooling developments not only carry the potential to attract increased residents, but often include multifunctional facilities such as school halls, cafeteria, gymnasium, sporting grounds that can be utilised by the wider community.
A case study that demonstrates the positive impact of education in the creation of a new community is the Department of Education and Training’s recently developed Officer Education Hub, located in Officer, Victoria and designed by ClarkeHopkinsClarke and opened in 2014.
Despite the suburb being positioned between several populated areas in Melbourne’s outer suburbs, Officer remained considerably under serviced by community infrastructure and called for an education hub to attract residents and bring the area to life.
A specialist school and a secondary college were the facilities included in the hub’s original brief, however, upon consultation with the local Cardinia Shire Council, demand for a wider range of community facilities was revealed. Recognising the potential of the school as a community hub, our mission as architects was to demonstrate how the education precinct could integrate a range of facilities for dual use by both the school and local community, and in turn attract both local and state funding.