Try a new search >
   -   The Australian Institute of Architects Award for Enduring Architecture (ACT)

Red Hill Primary School
by Commonwealth of Australia Department of Works



ACT AWARD FOR ENDURING ARCHITECTURE 2011 RED HILL PRIMARY SCHOOL Red Hill Primary School was designed in 1959 and constructed in 1960 to serve the needs of the growing population in Canberra's inner south. It was designed by the Commonwealth of Australia Department of Works The Design Architect is unconfirmed but the Principal Architect was Harry Foskett, the Supervising Architect was Derek Wrigley and the Senior Architect was David Ryan. The Red Hill Primary School is well sited on a gentle rise. The complex of school buildings occupies the crown of the rise overlooking the playing field with the main formal entry and carpark facing the Red Hill shops. Viewed from the sweeping curve of La Perouse Street across vast open playing fields, the school has a commanding presence. This presence is evident in early photographs with the buildings standing stark against the striking red Canberra soil that gives the area its name. The several buildings are arranged in a large H shape around the play ground; a two storey classroom block occupying one leg, a single storey block and the other joined by a link containing administration, staff areas and the original assembly hall, now a library. A parallel single storey wing to the northwest is currently occupied by the French Australia Preschool. The ceremonial main entrance and entry court to the southwest of the link is a simple, yet formal single storey gathering space along classical lines with broad steps leading to a slightly elevated glazed gallery. This elevated entry gives a grand sense of arrival and has expansive views to the northeast across a paved play court and onward to the gently sloping playing field. Adjacent to the entry court is the original assembly hall, with a high, gently raking, ply lined ceiling and an expansive two storey high window wall facing wooded parkland. The architecture is well executed 1960s Modernist, with alternating panels of concrete blockwork (recently painted navy blue) and anodized aluminium window walls and shallow pitched roofs. The forms are simple and appealing and do not detract from the clarity of the site planning itself.

The architecture is distinctly modern and refined, more so than the solid structuralist 1950s forms exemplified in Turner and Ainslie Schools. The strongest forms are the gable ends of each wing. These combine a low pitched roof with a reverse raked 'butterfly' ceiling line expressed externally in a diamond shaped barge line. Fine detailing includes exaggerated prow like barge terminations which accentuate the roof form. The diamond has become a school motif. The interior layout is generous and innovative for its time. The teaching wings have classrooms on each side with an unusually wide central circulation space, almost an internal street, which cleverly facilitates natural light filling the central space and movements of large groups and functions as alternative teaching space and informal gathering space—a welcome refuge from the playground in a Canberra winter! The classrooms have one largely glazed side, shaded where required, with operable glazed highlights facing into the centre hallways. Exuberant celebrations were held for Red Hill Primary's 50th anniversary in 2010. The school is well loved and well used. The jury was struck by the sense of vibrancy apparent during a late morning school-day visit. With two additional buildings added in the past 50 years to allow for the large school population of 700 students, and some minor cosmetic and mechanical changes made to the original buildings, the spaces continue to serve their original purpose. There is a sense of space and light with engaging views to the outside making an appealing environment for learning and play. The jury hopes recognition of the enduring architecture and heritage value of this school will extend to the current proposed and future additions. Well considered and sympathetic additions which respond to the original design intent will allow the school to continue to serve the community in the future. THE JURY FOR THE 2011 AWARD FOR ENDURING ARCHITECTURE CONSISTED OF Rachel Jackson (chair), Godden Mackay Logan Heritage Consultants David Hobbes RAIA, Philip Leeson Architects Eric Martin FRAIA, Eric Martin & Associates

Commonwealth of Australia Department of Works
Project Team
Design architect: Unconfirmed
Principal Architect: Harry Foskett
Supervising Architect: Derek Wrigley
Senior Architect: David Ryan
: unknown
Photographer: unknown
Photographer: unknown
Photographer: unknown
Photographer: unknown

Photographs by unknown, unknown, unknown & unknown, text by Commonwealth of Australia Department of Works

Link directly to this award entry: is the website of The Royal Australian Institute of Architects