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The Challenge

Ballarat High School recognises that 21st century learning demands more than mastering the curriculum. It’s also about giving students space to develop their own group identity and relationships, satisfying social and emotional needs, providing security, experiencing success and developing independence; through mutual cooperation.

This was the brief given to Pretect Commercial Modular Buildings when the school needed a new, self-contained Year 9 Learning Neighbourhood. The design had to:

  • Facilitate the sense of community intended by the school structure where co-teaching teams share responsibility for the same group of students, across most subjects.
  • Cater for flexible groupings, individual programs and whole cohort activities.
  • Convey the school community’s respect for the uniqueness of Year 9. Show they were valued, important and invested in.
  • Give them a quality place in which to be themselves, in a location that would inspire and reinforce student aspiration.

Pretect’s Response

Pretect’s experienced architects focussed on the end benefit for the students, then planned a bespoke building to enable that. All stages of the design process: addressed the educational brief, added value and extended the possibilities; giving BHS more than they first imagined!

The infinitely flexible learning space utilises operable walls and careful layout. Every aspect of the building has purpose and multiple uses:

  • There are 5 adaptable, super-sized, home room spaces designed for up to fifty students and their two home room teachers. Operable glass walls and doorways allow the home rooms to open up or close down into multiple teaching or independent working spaces.
  • Each space opens to and connects with the Central Learning Hub running centrally through the length of the building. Large drop-down screens and monitors are positioned for group assemblies, presentations and other gatherings.
  • Clever use of glass doors, nib walls and obtuse angles allow students to work independently, yet remain within visual supervision from their home room.
  • Natural light and ventilation is brought into the central areas via highlight windows while the building’s orientation considers the need for soft, diffused, southerly light in areas where screens are used.
  • Acoustic treatments on internal walls, internal insulation, non-reflective wall and ceiling angles, acoustic ceilings and carpet throughout guarantee low ambient noise levels. The extra floor thickness adds rigidity and reduces reverberation…especially important when 250 teenagers are on the move!
  • Locating the staff collaborative planning area at the main entrance and spreading other offices along the central learning hub, creates entry control points. Abundant glazing throughout ensures student safety through clear visual sight lines.
  • Decks surrounding the building create passive gathering and meeting places for students. Despite Ballarat’s often maligned weather…there will always be a sheltered outdoor space, accessible directly from within the building.
  • Multiple transition points allow students to gather in smaller groups adjacent to their most suitable entry point, giving time to move into more passive learning mode and reinforcing the school’s respectful attitude toward student behaviour.
  • Student and staff amenities, kitchenettes, storage areas and services locations are positioned to reduce movement and distraction within the building.

The Benefits of Pretect’s Solution

Pretect’s superior design and ingenious modular building methods resolved all elements of the brief. The new building is a place where teachers and students work and learn together. It has a sense of permanence and aesthetically complements the other insitu-built facilities.

  • As 80% of the prefab construction occurs in the factory, school life continued with minimal disruption, unlike a traditional building project.
  • Prefabricated modular building simplifies school building programs:
    • there are no weather delays,
    • less space has to be handed over to the building site,
    • the time frame is greatly reduced,
    • fewer contractors work on-site,
    • Parents can still access the school for pickup and drop off,
    • Principals can concentrate on running their school, not the building program!
  • The entire project exceeded the brief, was delivered ahead of time and within the budget of $3.9M.

For design function and construction efficiency, let Pretect’s experience and modular expertise make your educational vision a reality.


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