The Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences (EBSS) was developed as an exemplar for sustainable and educational design. Developed in collaboration with DEECD, The University High School, The University of Melbourne and The Bio21 Institute, the facility is a unique tertiary-style learning environment, tailored to support 200 University High School VCE students pursuing a science and mathematics rich curriculum.

The building has been designed to function as a teaching laboratory for Master of Teaching students and provides a unique platform for collaboration and resource sharing between University High School and The University of Melbourne. Located in Melbourne’s premier science precinct and in close proximity to significant heritage listed structures, the School was designed to respect and respond to the historical context whilst referencing the science focus through materiality and form.

Characterised by strong geometric forms, quirky design features, and tailored facilities to support the School’s unique pedagogical approach, the building acts as a physical ‘text book’, guiding the learning experiences within. Designed to achieve a 5 star energy rating, the building features an experimental Geothermal Heat Exchange Pilot Project, which was integrated in conjunction with the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Engineering and reduces the buildings running cost by an estimated 96 per cent.



EBSS is designed to be an exemplar for a science and mathematics based curriculum.

Designed to facilitate mentoring relationships between the secondary school students, scientists at the Bio21 Institute and tertiary students at the University of Melbourne, EBSS accommodates 200 VCE students in a tertiary-style learning environment.

EBSS is the result of an extensive consultation process with The University High School that explored the School’s learning methodologies, curriculum and the current industry understanding of best practice learning environments. The design recognises that a large proportion of student learning and knowledge retention happens outside of the classroom, incorporating student collaboration areas that encourage peer-driven learning.


The Elizabeth Blackburn School of Science was designed to respect and respond to the historical context whilst referencing the science focus through materiality and form. The building captures the advantages of the site’s northerly aspect through the introduction of a double-height, glazed void space that connects the ground and first floors, and ensures communal spaces are awash with natural light.

The school features learning environments that are adult in character, with students learning in lecture and tutorial formats to support the School’s tailored pedagogical approach and to prepare them for tertiary study. Lecture theatres and tutorial rooms with flexible, modular furniture are complemented by communal, collaborative, and discussion based study spaces.


The School also features a unique experimental learning laboratory that accommodates the three science disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics, and encourages student exploration and peer driven learning. The laboratory is designed without a focal demonstration bench, as a system of cameras throughout the room allows the activity on any bench to be projected onto screens. Set at ground level, the experimental learning laboratory features generous sections of glazing to provide strong indoor/outdoor learning connectivity with the adjacent outdoor terrace, as well as to allow passive surveillance externally and reveal the purpose of the school within.


The building is at the forefront of sustainable design, the Geothermal Heat Exchange Project, designed and constructed in conjunction with the University of Melbourne’s Department of Infrastructure Engineering, reduces the buildings running costs by an estimated 96%. The facility also incorporates a solar array, rainwater harvesting and digital displays which show the amount of energy been produced and used by the building at any given time.


Atkar, ‘Au.di.Slot’ AS26-40/80. Colour: White Satin
Atkar, ‘Au.di.Slot’ AS26-40/80. Colour: Tas Oak finish

Feature ceilings are used throughout the facility. Timber is used in learning and student collaboration zones to create warm and inviting environments.

Rugs Carpets by Design, Custom made carpet

The custom-designed carpet enabled the continuation of the tetrahedron form throughout the building. The use of green references biology and reflects the scientific function of the facility.

Locker Group, ‘Atmosphere’ perforated metal screen. Colour: Monument.

An external sunshading device has been expressed on the Northern Elevation of the facility. Created of blades of varying size, the screen is designed to control unwanted heat gain, prevent light emissions from exiting the building. The articulated size of the screen blades has been used to delineate between large group learning spaces and more intimate student collaboration zones.

Vitrabond, Aluminium Composite Panel Colour: solid light grey

The facility’s internal function has been expressed, driving the physical form of the building. The lecture theatres and external work benches are clad in composite aluminium cladding, creating a unique shape iconic to EBSS.

Boral, DesignerBlock 390 x 90 x 90. Colour: Charcoal

The facility is designed to respect and respond to three major heritage listed items. The Northern Market Wall, the University High School and the Parkville Precint.

390 x 90 x 90 Boral DesignerBlock was utilised to enhance the facility’s connection to its heritage surroundings.