Banyule Nillumbik Tech School
- Tectura Architects
- Creo Consultants
- Waterman AHW
- Philip Chun
Attracting young people to embrace STEM and STEAM study areas is the aim of the Banyule Nillumbik Tech School (BNTS). Victorian students choose real world problems at the Tech School and set about solving them using an experience-based learning process through ideation, digital making, physical making, testing and presentation to their peers or industry partners.
The Tech School has facilities and programs that are not available in most secondary schools and the programs are designed to stimulate curiosity and promote agency and innovation, in an inclusive and accessible setting, using design to encourage participation of young women within scientific spaces
The unique approach of BNTS is the integration between architecture, interior design and pedagogical curriculum to foster STEM & STEAM skills. An innovation hub, BNTS sparks creativity and imagination through technology. The building layout operates as a living laboratory and facilitates an environment where curiosity, problem solving skills and entrepreneurialism is nurtured.
Gallery spaces showcasing student works upon arrival fosters curiosity and challenge to prospective students. The building layout simulates the iterative nature of the design process, where students are both designer and maker and where students develop resilience by employing lateral problem-solving skills through observing, designing, testing, and making.
BNTS has fostered partnerships with local community groups such as Pitch Night Melbourne, which provides entrepreneurial opportunities through Melbourne Innovation Centre and industry for students seeking technical and financial assistance. The Tech School has been operational for 18 months and four students have already received seed funding and have gone on to create businesses.
The Tech School also hosts RMIT Professional Learning workshops in STEM & STEAM curriculum delivery; and, Araluen, a disability service provider, shares kitchen facilities delivering a cooking skills program to people with special needs. These partnerships cement BNTS as a diverse and vibrant community hub.
An extension and re-purposing of existing workshop space maximised the value of an unused asset coupled with sustainability principles in adaptive reuse.
The building’s orientation funnels northern light into the courtyard, acting as a light well, with views to nature from all internal and external windows, and maximising natural light and ventilation throughout.
The steep slope (five metres from north to south) provided an accessible architectural challenge overcome by using the levels of the land to create a circular accessible building layout, with platform lifts located at each stair junction, ensuring an equality of access and experience shared by all
A balance of purposeful and student-led learning spaces reflects the curriculum focus by facilitating the development of an innovative mindset that is agile and maximises opportunities to excel in STEM/STEAM fields providing a universal scaffold for continuous learning and engagement.
Close collaboration with BNTS facilitators promoted the fusion of curriculum and design.
In association with a projection specialist, the predominantly white external palette has additional digital services plus internal feature ceilings to allow student developed digital art projections.
The architecture affirms the Tech School as a living prototype, iteratively developing, calibrating and influencing authentic and applied learning opportunities for students
The architectural form expresses the scientific discovery of the colour spectrum by refracting white light through a prism, articulated by highlight colours traversing the façade and creating a pixel effect alluding to the ‘digital’ within our lives.
A warm playful palette was realised avoiding the typical ‘masculine’ design of high-tech environments. In addition, platform lifts are located at every stair junction ensuring equal experience is shared by all.
By removing partial wall linings, the building became a ‘second teacher,’ showcasing the stud framework, conduits, mechanical ductwork and sub-flooring, reaffirming the tech school mantra of ideation, experience-led learning, and physical making