The series of artworks for Harrisdale Senior High School is inspired by ‘networks’ – specifically the network of neurons in the brain that carry information in a dynamic and complex series of synapses or triggers. This concept of networks extends to the practical structure of the school and the many different support areas that provide the students and staff with a rich learning and teaching environment.
The 3D artworks capture the silhouette of a young adult’s mind, significantly looking outward and forward in new directions. Internal and integrated artworks represent the trigger points and pathways of the mind. These mental pathways refer to the range of studies the students undertake throughout high school, and the various pathways they pursue, be they academic, creative or practical.
This series of Artworks for Harrisdale Senior High School is created by artists Jason Hirst and Tim Macfarlane Reid.
Notes from the design brief for Harrisdale Senior High School
The key design opportunities presented by the site include:
- The school site is bounded on three sides by the new residential subdivision. These residences present a distinct campus edge and point of address for the school and the community.
- The school masterplan takes advantage of its proximity to the native bushland to the east of Skeet Road by arranging the buildings in such a way as to maintain visual connection from within the campus to the bush.
- The council owned public open space to the northeast of the school boundary presents an opportunity to create a seamless transition between the two sites and a link to the primary school site. The major sporting facilities for the school have been positioned adjoining the public open space, with the intent of creating a hub for the area.
- The resulting masterplan has maximised the number of buildings with a true north-south orientation to ensure a responsible environmental design is achieved.
The design philosophy of the masterplan is to group interrelated programmed functions in such a way that a variety of spaces and smaller communities are created within the overall campus. The planning structure centres around a two storey building (or Hub building) which contains the primary western entry to the school, the main administration centre, student services, the information resource centre and staff room, and incorporates the café opening out on to the heart of the campus.
The café/information resource centre building separates the plaza into two large spaces suitable for passive outdoor activities. The eastern side of the café engages with the north-south pedestrian spine running through the centre of the campus. The pedestrian spine terminates at either end by the sports hall and the technology building.
The three community learning buildings (Years 7, 8 and 9) are arranged to the east of the spine, all with a true north orientation. Their associated outdoor spaces can be used as outdoor learning spaces or as passive recreation spaces, away from the senior students. The Science learning area establishes the campus edge in the southwest site boundary.
The stage 2 buildings including the Senior School Learning Area, Performing Arts, Music and Arts facilities will eventually complete the site development and the masterplan concept in the years ahead.
Planned for Staged Construction
The masterplan provides for a two-stage development of the campus. It will enable the school to reach its ultimate development with minimal disruption after the completion of Stage 1.
Key Design Objectives
Harrisdale Senior High School will provide an exciting, safe and vibrant environment for students. The school will be one of the most significant buildings in the area and its scale and contemporary design will ensure it is seen as an education facility of the highest quality. And as a result it is hoped that the school will foster a sense of pride in the surrounding subdivision and become a place for young students to aspire to attend.
The key design objectives are to:
- create a design solution that achieves the target benchmark for a secondary school
- design a school that achieves best practice in terms of inclusive design
- design buildings that are flexible and adaptable
- provide a variety of external social spaces and informal learning areas for all students
- design buildings with a strong presence and sense of identity
- produce an environmentally sustainable design, which has considered orientation, natural light and natural ventilation
- provide buildings that include robust detailing and low maintenance material selections
- establish inclusive and flexible spaces that facilitate communication and interaction between staff and students
These design objectives have been incorporated into an aesthetic that has a public and a private face.
The design language for the ‘public’ side aims to present a solid, protective layer in the form of a face brickwork colonnade. This acknowledges ion a contemporary manner the early West Australian school buildings. The brick colonnade establishes a human scaled rhythm to the long built forms addressing the adjoining streets. A varied brick colour palette and brick detailing provide added interest to these sides.
The design language for the ‘private’ side creates a more intimate student scale. The face brick colonnades give way generally to exposed hot dipped galvanised steel columns and rafters to the verandas with lightweight wall cladding to be used on external wall surfaces about a lower brick dado to ensure a robust and low maintenance surface at student height.
The two storey Library/Café is located in the heart of the campus. The Library (Information Resource Centre) on the first floor commands views across the campus towards the native bush land adjoining Skeet Road. The café provides a focal point for students at recess and lunchtimes with the adjoining hard and soft landscaped areas acting as extensions to the internal seating areas.
The school’s interior design scheme draws inspiration from the surrounding bushland with the intent to create a connection to the outdoors using natural objects, elements, materials, forms and patterns. The bushland imagery is abstracted throughout the interiors scheme to create modern, energy filled spaces, designed to excite students and instil a sense of connection with the school’s natural context.
The Banksia, in particular, was selected for further exploration. A study of different Banksia flowers led to the development of three colour palettes, which are used to create an identity for each zone within the school. The colours are used in high concentration and intensity in the most public areas to create bold, playful statements. Each colour scheme explores the tonal variation within the flowers while also suggesting their textural qualities.
To complement the bold colour schemes, a neutral base palette has been developed inspired by the dry, natural bushland surrounding the school and in particular the seed of the Banksia. This neutral palette is applied to the more private spaces in the school – teaching spaces, administration offices, etc – the key working areas where distractions need to be minimised. Textural elements are utilised within the neutral interior spaces to create a connection to the outdoors and to provide an overall feeling of calmness.
General Learning Area
Bright colours are used with restraint to ensure that attention is focused on the information being delivered by the teacher. Informal learning spaces offer a breakout space from the formal teaching environment and provide students with the opportunity to undertake collaborative group work and self-directed learning. Supervision from adjacent classrooms is maintained through feature windows which visually link the spaces while providing acoustic separation.
The architects for Harrisdale Senior High School are Taylor Robinson Architects, Perth.