The ACT Parents and Citizens Association has suggested that ‘going up’ might be a solution to a lack of space for a new primary school in the growing Northbourne corridor.
The idea of building a multi-storey or vertical school was floated in a Budget submission as part of lobbying for more schools to be built to cater for projected population increases in Gungahlin, central Belconnen and the Inner North, with the latter two being transformed by densification.
The submission said the Inner North schools were in strong demand and operating at near or above capacity – Ainslie Primary at 76 per cent, Campbell Primary 88 per cent, Lyneham Primary 86 per cent, Majura Primary 89 per cent, North Ainslie Primary 101 per cent, Turner Primary 84 per cent, Campbell High 83 per cent and Lyneham High at 103 per cent.
“Development along the tram corridor is expected to place further strain on the capacity of these schools within the next few years,” it said, recommending the ACT Government acquire land to build a vertical school, close to and linked with existing open urban spaces including parks.
P&C spokesperson Janelle Kennard said the Association wanted to start a conversation about finding innovative approaches to overcoming the lack of space in the corridor and overcrowding.
“Let’s not be hamstrung by the existing way we think about schools,” she said.
While the Association did not have a fully fledged proposal or a concrete plan about how tall a building would be required, it knew of vertical schools around the world that managed to use space innovatively, including creating really interesting play spaces.
Ms Kennard said many parents also told the Association repeatedly that they wanted their children schooled near their workplaces, which was more possible with extra capacity.
She said the government plan for the Inner North and inner Belconnen was for more density. “That’s great, we’re a changing city, were growing up. We have to let that excitement and innovation around that growing city flow into our school planning,” she said.
“If there isn’t the space for a traditional flat school then that’s why it’s important to consider something that takes up less of a footprint.”
According to The Urban Developer website, the South Australian, Victorian, New South Wales and Queensland governments have all committed major funding to vertical schooling in their biggest cities.
In Sydney, Arthur Phillip High School and Parramatta Public School are in the midst of a $225 million vertical education redevelopment, with Arthur Phillip projected to be 17 storeys and Parramatta four.
Surry Hills High School is a $60 million project planned for completion in 2020 that will house 47 classrooms, a gymnasium and grassed rooftop that caters to 1200 new students.
The Queensland Government has announced a $500 million proposal for two new vertical schools in inner-city Brisbane by 2020.
Melbourne’s first vertical school, Haileybury City Campus opened in January 2017, catering for 800 students ranging from Early Learning to Year 12.
The 10-storey building has two floors dedicated to art facilities with a professional standard drama studio, sports hall and university-level science labs.
In its Budget submission, the Parents and Citizens Association also urged the Government to build a new primary school in east Gungahlin, with current projections suggesting that the overall Gungahlin school population will double in the next 10 years, and in central Belconnen, where high-rise development is transforming the landscape and the population.