According to architects Six Degrees, Albert Park College (APC) was an adaptive reuse of significant heritage listed Sandridge Post and Telegraph Office (JJ Clarke 1887) and Naval Drill Hall (1911).

Peter Malatt, Six Degrees director says, “the design highlights the heritage qualities - robust construction, light and airy interiors and original timber floors, and inserts modern teaching pedagogy and technology.”

“The design also adapts the existing mezzanine and lower floors into large teaching and learning spaces and retains the Drill Hall as a performance and teaching space,” he says.

Connection of the two levels with a stepped timber seating area gives a unique appreciation of the building volume and increases the usefulness of the space for performance and large group activities.

The Post Office was stripped to the original finishes and preserved in an elegantly unfinished state. Administrative, meeting and music rehearsal spaces are housed in this part of the development, using its cellular brick spaces.

A new link makes wayfinding through the buildings logical and secure, and provides disabled access throughout the buildings.

According to Six Degrees, the key design principles employed were:

•          Clear expression of the original heritage building fabric

•          Cohesive materiality and subtle form of the inserted new works, using timber finishes to add warmth and texture

•          High ESD values.

Malatt  says that the project contributes to the public and cultural benefit by:

•          Restoration and adaptive reuse of two significant and Heritage listed structures, the 1897 Sandridge Post and Telegraph Office and the 1911 Naval Drill Hall.

•          Removal of hazardous materials from the buildings.

•          Contribution to the education and community infrastructure of the Port Melbourne area.

•          The large multipurpose space is suitable for a variety of community and exhibition uses, adding to community benefit.

•          The kitchen and coffee facility is located to activate the rear laneway.

•          High ESD performance and values in the services, using high quality LED lighting and solar boosted hydronic heating.

•          Full consideration of access requirements for the partly abled.

The concepts engaged with new and pre-existing conditions include:

•          New external built forms are separated from the heritage structures and are clad in subtle and recessive materials to maintain the relevance of the original layout.

•          A new open courtyard formed using the walls of the later addition to the Post Office, recognising the adaption of the Post office over time, but also revealing the original layout of the building.

•          The main student entrance is relocated to the rear laneway, in order to increase pedestrian safety and activate the rear lane.

•          The new entry, access stair and lift are located at the rear of the building to minimise visual impact on the original structures from the main streets.

“The planning of the building reflects the functional and pedagogical goals of the school. Planning is rational and stacked to maximize natural wayfinding,” says Malatt, and ensures:

•          Existing ground and mezzanine spaces are used for 4 large multipurpose and science classrooms.

•          The main Naval Drill Hall space is retained as a multipurpose teaching, meeting and performance space, a function not easily reconciled with the standard DEECD brief and budget controls, but a clear direction of the school’s pedagogical goals for a more mature teaching style.

•          The thermal performance of the spaces has been enhanced with exposed insulation as a pedagogical approach to building fabric and enhanced with hydronic heating, again not easily reconciled with DEECD standards.

•          Internal finishes are generally timber and plywood for long life and greater warmth and appearance value.

The following specialist installations were undertaken with the financial commitment of Albert Park College:

•          Low energy LED lighting

•          Solar boosted hot water

•          Enabled for future Solar photovoltaic power generation.

•          Hydronic heating throughout.

•          High specification wireless communications to assist in new teaching methods

It should be noted that the School provided significant support to the quality of the project outcomes through its self-funding of many aspects of the project to increase particularly the ESD and finishes for long term benefit.

Malatt says the following aspects were significant ESD upgrades in the project:

•          Increased thermal envelope performance using foilboard ceiling linings.

•          Evacuated tube Solar boosted gas fired hydronic heating.

•          Evacuated tube Solar boosted hot water.

•          Rainwater storage for landscaping and toilets.

•          Enabled for future Solar photovoltaic power generation

•          Night purge system through operable toplight windows and roof vent dampers.

Malatt also says the additional benefits of the building are:

•          Adaptive reuse of two significant heritage buildings

•          Provision of a large multipurpose community space for events, performance and exhibition uses

•          Addition to the educational infrastructure of Albert Park

•          Demonstration project with high ESD values

•          An emphasis on people in the design process, both teaching staff and students, with the goal for the design to support a great education experience for all.