Endeavour Hills Specialist School
Victorian School Building Authority
Endeavour Hills, VIC
Completion, November 2021
Mark van den Enden
Endeavour Hills Specialist School is a new P-12 campus situated in a gentle low-rise suburb, with open spaces and native eucalyptus trees. The school aims to create a safe, nurturing and engaging environment for students to comfortably embrace challenges, take risks in their learning, and build autonomy, self-regulation and independence.
Architectus has been engaged by the Victorian School Building Authority – in a joint venture partnership with K2LD and DesignInc – to provide architectural consultancy services for their 2020 Schools Development program. Endeavour Hills sits on a greenfield site in the City of Casey, one of the fastest-growing municipalities in Australia.
The Specialist School is committed to providing educational and therapeutic programs for children and teenagers diagnosed with autism or moderate-to-severe disabilities. The design caters for up to 288 students with a low staff-to-student ratio. The strong visual and physical connection between the indoor and outdoor environments aims to help the students regulate their responses to challenging situations by moving to a calm space.
The planning and designs have been thoughtfully selected to explore an ‘urban village’. The school will include an Administration Building (including Library and Staff facilities), five Learning Community Buildings and a Community Hub Building – housing a gymnasium, performing arts, multi-purpose areas, a kitchen and dining area, student and staff amenities. All buildings are set back from Amalfi Drive to allow for safe access.
In the buildings that cater for senior and middle students, the design includes three specialised areas for students to develop the necessary cooking, personal hygiene and grooming skills for a successful everyday life. Each area has a kitchen where the students learn to cook using a fridge/freezer, an oven, an accessible stove and a sink. With laundry facilities, students wash, iron and fold clothing. With a fold-down bed – that easily stores away in a cupboard when not needed – students learn to make their bed. There are also casual dining and lounge areas for the students to use.
The interior features will create a highly adaptable environment. Large sliding doors, mobile furniture, washable floor coverings, and carefully positioned storage allow teachers to divide spaces and organise the environments to create differentiate learning outcomes for individual students.
The external materiality combines brickwork and Colorbond metal wall cladding, which has been developed to establish a strong visual identity. The site’s south-western elevation faces the Monash Freeway, so the masonry/brick wall along this side shields the school community from road noise while marking the new school’s identity to passers-by.