Officer Education Precinct is located in a developing area in the south east of Melbourne’s metropolitan area. It plays an important role in the overall structure plan of the area, contributing to the creation of a cohesive neighbourhood. The precinct incorporates the Officer Secondary School, the Officer Specialist School, a Community Education Hub and a soon to be completed Gum Scrub Creek Primary School. ClarkeHopkinsClarke were responsible for masterplanning and design of the entire precinct. The Officer town centre is located to the north of the site whilst a large reserve incorporating sports facilities is located to the south.
The development of an Education Precinct has created ample opportunity to recognise efficiencies and to create facilities that can be used by the entire community. The site of the precinct was originally set aside for a secondary school only. Due to the tireless lobbying efforts of some local people, the State Government agreed to provide a Specialist School for the area and it was decided that it would also be incorporated into the secondary school site. The precinct masterplan was therefore required to fit two schools on an eight-hectare site, an area typically required to house a secondary school only requiring more of a ‘vertical school’ solution.
Continuing the main pedestrian axis to the north, into the education precinct site, reinforces great connectivity with the town centre. The built form is pushed to the edges of the site giving the precinct great civic presence within the neighbourhood. This provides space for a range of shared areas throughout the centre and western border of the site including an oval, sports field, various sports courts, a central plaza and an outdoor auditorium that can be utilised as a performance space. However, it is the centrally located Community Education Hub that really brings the two schools and the community together.
The Education Hub was added to the scope of the project during the master planning phase via collaboration with the local council, who attracted a further community infrastructure grant to fund the facilities. The Hub buildings incorporate reception, food technology, games hall, performing arts and multipurpose spaces that can be utilised by either school or by the local community.
The Officer Education Hub is a great example of how land can be used efficiently to create a range of facilities that provide opportunities for community involvement and lifelong learning.