An addition to a Melbourne school moves away from traditional classroom planning to a model that prioritises natural light, flexible furniture and technology-enabled teaching and learning.

Designed by Woods Bagot, the Margaret McRae Centre at Ruyton Girls School has elevated the campus with architecture and integrated interiors facilitating learning in a digital age – with a variety of spaces for task-based, student-centred flexible learning.

"This project saw the existing Margaret McRae building demolished and a striking new facility erected in its place,” says Sarah Ball, Woods Bagot principal. “The transformation has enabled additional amenity and application of best practice teaching and learning environments at the school.”

“The design features reconfigurable furniture options and larger floor plates for increased flexibility, further supporting the move towards learning in the digital age and empowering students in the learning process within both formal and informal learning environments.”

Photography by Michael Downes 

Comprising four levels including a basement, the building sits within the heart of the campus. It has been designed with two wings.

The form and materiality of the new Margaret McRae Centre is inspired by the medieval buildings of the Ruyton XI towns of which the school is named. The building is clad in stone pavers, which have been adapted for use as a rain-screen cladding system. This maintains the solidity of the surrounding brick buildings, while providing contrast in terms of scale, colour, vertical orientation, and sculptural form.

Photography by Michael Downes 

Inside, timber veneer walls and bulkheads, timber joinery and blue stone flooring and carpets made of recycled fishnets feature. Glazing creates transparency between classrooms and the break-out space, doubling as an informal area for small group activities.

Photography by Michael Downes 
Photography by Peter Bennetts

A new landscaped forecourt and external theatre along the south-western frontage of the site completes the design.

Photography by Michael Downes 

The Margaret McRae Centre was recently shortlisted in the 2017 Victorian Architecture Awards.