Victoria’s first vertical state school welcomed students earlier this year. While there are numerous other vertical schools in the works for Victoria, what makes this school unique is the fact that it has no actual classrooms – the one feature that we typically use to define a school.

Designed by Hayball, the six-storey school has “learning neighbourhoods” instead of classrooms.

“Classrooms have been minimised; there are no formal classrooms in this school,” says Hayball director Ann Lau.

“Each learning neighbourhood will effectively accommodate 75 children with three teaching staff. This is very much about collaborative learning rather than didactic learning.

“Learning can actually take place indoors or outdoors depending on the weather.”


Being located on a compact site in the growing Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area, it made sense to build up rather than out, and develop a hybrid space that could be used for many different functions not just by students and teachers, but also members of the community.

While designing South Melbourne Primary School, Hayball was working with the City of Port Phillip to deliver streetscape and public realm works for the Ferrars Street Education and Community Precinct. This project was integrated with the school design to deliver community infrastructure and improve accessibility and connectivity – including pedestrian, cyclist and public transport access – which is vital for the operation of the school.

As well as a government primary school for 525 students, the project includes an early learning centre, maternal and child health centre, multi-purpose community rooms and indoor and outdoor multi-purpose sports courts.