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Can radical approaches to architecture reform our education system?

7 December 2016

The brief for this year’s final project of the UTS Bachelor of Architecture was bold and ambitious: to design a new school for inner Sydney, a blueprint for a contemporary multi-arts centre with potential to revolutionise secondary education.

The competition format involved some of the country’s most respected architects judging the entries and awarding industry-sponsored prizes in various categories.

“The jury walked away from the day saying how impressive the level of work was and how difficult it was selecting a winner,” said William Feuerman, senior lecturer at UTS Architecture.

“The sophistication of the conversations ranging from challenging educational norms to urban design principals and building systems was matched by the detailed architectural drawings and models presented,” he added.

Jarrod Phillips and Andrea Lam have just completed the UTS Bachelor of Design in Architecture

Jarrod Phillips and Andrea Lam have just completed the UTS Bachelor of Design in Architecture

Andrea Lam and Jarrod Phillips, who’ve both just completed the three-year degree, received an honourable mention for their proposal which was inspired by the popular Ted Talk by Sir Ken Robinson, ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’.

“Our objective was to design a school which nurtures and facilitates the growth of all different types of learners, not just those who perform well under a regimented system or who are academically gifted – that’s our interpretation of how to grow a true knowledge economy,” described Andrea.

“In many ways, we wanted to bring to life the reforms put forward by Sir Robinson: to deliver a school system which values creativity as much as literacy – a school equipped for the challenges of our unpredictable future,” she continued.

The heritage listed site of Carriageworks was selected as the location of the school, with the design required to accommodate 800 students. The space, which was originally established as a base to repair old trains, posed challenges for some groups and possibility for others.

The pair received an 'honourable mention' by an industry judging panel for their innovative design

The pair received an 'honourable mention' by an industry judging panel for their innovative design.

“Carriageworks contains a rail track system called “The Traverser’, which would allow the trains to be moved easily between the buildings when they needed repair, Jarrod explained.

“Andrea and I saw opportunity to reuse what was already existing and adopt a similar concept to easily transform spaces by moving modular furniture, infrastructure and classrooms in and out of buildings.”

Their design offers flexible spaces, which are adaptable to different disciplines and interests, and can be transformed from large amphitheatre spaces through to small intimate spaces.

Sydney’s Carriageworks reimagined as a contemporary secondary school. Credit: Andrea Lam and Jarrod Philliips

Sydney’s Carriageworks reimagined as a contemporary secondary school. Credit: Andrea Lam and Jarrod Philliips

“The main building is configured to house lots of stations, and a central generator allowing an amphitheatre, stage and seating to be built with ease,” said Andrea, who this year received the prestigious ‘Women in Construction’ scholarship from Richard Crookes Construction.

Both graduates found the school project gave them the opportunity to “combine everything we’ve learnt over the past three years into one solid proposal”.

For Jarrod who articulated into the degree after working in construction and then completing a Diploma in Building Design at TAFE, credits his alternative pathway with providing him with a great foundation and good technical background.

“The thing we’ve taken away from this project is that there are different types of intelligence and viewpoints, and I think UTS really champions that,” said Jarrod.

“Projects such as designing detention centres for refugees demonstrates that UTS really pushes the boundaries of what you know architecture to be. It’s a very collaborative and innovative environment,” reflected Jarrod.

 

The studio Architectural Design: Integration is the final subject of the three-year UTS Bachelor of Architecture, led by William Feuerman, Senior Lecturer at UTS Architecture.

Thanks to the industry judging panel for devoting time to this project:

Olivia Hyde, Associate Government Architect, Office of the Government Architect
Catherine Lassen, Senior Lecturer, The University of Sydney
Brian Zulaikha, Founding Partner, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects
Chris Arkins, Director, Steensen Varming