Wesley College Drennen Centre, Melbourne Educational Facility, Australian Building Development, Architecture Images

Wesley College Drennen Centre in Melbourne

16 Aug 2021

Architects: Cox Architecture

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Wesley College Drennen Centre Melbourne

Wesley College Drennen Centre

In 2016, Wesley College’s Glen Waverley campus lost a series of homerooms for Year 5 & 6 students to an electrical fire. Rather than replace the buildings and their function, the school asked Cox Architecture to conceptualise a much more ambitious scheme, one that would become a panacea to a broad range of issues – Wesley College Drennen Centre.

Wesley College Drennen Centre Melbourne

With the brief evolving rapidly, as the school assessed its priorities, Cox Architecture started with the campus master planning potential and by posing to the school a much more fundamental shift. Rather than re-house Year 5 & 6 students in the same central location, we asked whether the location better suited a new centre for Year 9 students.

Wesley College Drennen Centre Melbourne

This shift identified a conceptual arc across the campus, beginning with the Junior School in the south-west corner and culminating with the Senior School in the north-east. By locating Year 9 as a separate year in the heart of the campus and the centre of that arc we also recognised Wesley’s pedagogic approach to Year 9, with students being somewhat transient, spending a term living in a rural campus and honing their life skills before they leap into Senior School and its demands.

Wesley College Drennen Centre Melbourne

Around the Year 9 Homerooms, the building grew rapidly, with the school committing to building a Chapel (something mooted since the campus was first conceived), a single campus library, a much expanded Languages and LOTE centre, a collaborative learning theatre as well as the new front reception and staff lounge for the campus.

Wesley College Drennen Centre Melbourne Wesley College Drennen Centre Melbourne

The architectural response to this divergent roster was to conceptualise the building as a series of destinations along a main street. This street was given a civic quality with a terrazzo stone paving and at the building’s heart, a large open stair takes students up and down all levels. This organisational device ensured the building was both easily navigated and that the large numbers of students entering and exiting the building together would be managed.

Wesley College Drennen Centre Melbourne

From this, Cox Architecture worked with the school to massage the plan, locating the library to the south to benefit from the even south light and face a newly created landscaped courtyard, the chapel was placed front and centre, its height accentuated not only as an ecclesiastic gesture, but also as a civic marker of the new building as the front door of the campus.

Wesley College Drennen Centre Melbourne Wesley College Drennen Centre Melbourne

Having completed a number of projects on the campus, the ubiquitous presence of raw concrete masonry was understood. This project both challenged this palette with its warm and subtly variegated bricks, whilst also recognising that anything other than a solid masonry building would appear thin and flimsy in its context.

Wesley College Drennen Centre Melbourne

Cox Architecture worked with the services and ESD team to deliver a project that re-uses a large percentage of its roof water, generates 100kw of solar electricity and has finely tuned the envelope with fresh-air systems to classrooms, highly insulated walls and roofs as well as provides shade to windows where needed most.

Wesley College Drennen Centre Melbourne

Wesley College Drennen Centre in Melbourne, Victoria – Building Information

Architect: Cox Architecture

Project size: 4300 sqm
Project Budget: $20000000
Completion date: 2019

Wesley College Drennen Centre Melbourne

Wesley College Drennen Centre Melbourne

Photography © Fi Storey

Cox Architecture

Wesley College Drennen Centre, Melbourne images / information received 160821

Location: Melbourne, VIC, Australia

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