Third time’s the charm! Another award win for Fortitude Valley State Secondary College project

The Australian Institute of Architects’ Queensland Architecture Awards were announced via a virtual presentation last week, recognising more than 40 projects across 13 categories including commercial, residential, educational and urban design.  

Among the recipients, ThomsonAdsett were awarded The Jennifer Taylor Award for Educational Architecture for their work on the Fortitude Valley State Secondary College (FVSSC) project, which was completed in collaboration with Cox Architecture.  

Based on the strength of educational design projects in the mix of those recognised by the jury, it’s clear that innovation in this sector is a key investment area in Queensland. 

“We have seen a particularly strong year in education,” Eloise Atkinson, jury chair and director at Deicke Richards said.  

The Queensland Architecture Awards win comes off the back of the announcement in May that ThomsonAdsett had been awarded a Commendation for Educational Architecture at the 2021 Queensland Regional Architecture Awards for the project. Stage 1 of the school also received a Learning Environments Australia Queensland Commendation Award in Category 1: New Construction /Entire New Educational Facility. 

ThomsonAdsett was engaged to deliver this landmark project with Hutchinson Builders as the main contractor. Designed by COX Architects, the ThomsonAdsett team worked collaboratively with the Department of Education, School Leadership, and the Hutchinson team to ensure that the outcome aligned with expectations. Along with the building design, ThomsonAdsett were engaged by the Department to work with the school and local furniture suppliers to ensure that the furniture aligned with the school’s pedagogy.  

“We knew there was plenty of scope for us to develop furniture and layouts which would not only challenge traditional concepts of learning spaces, but re-invent them,” Chad said of the project. “The building aesthetics of the FVSSC are the juxtaposition between form, function, pattern and finishes which create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. 

“The furniture designed and installed supports personalised, embodied and situated learning which allows students to pivot between listening to their teachers and independently and /or cooperatively working through their tasks at hand.” 

As the first new school to be built in inner Brisbane in over 50 years, FVSSC was designed with and for its community – creating a space and a learning environment that is vibrant and welcoming both during and outside of school hours, that is part of an active network of schools and acts as a community hub, promoting shared-use and community participation.  

Designed to service children from Years 7-12 in Brisbane’s inner north, the school was developed in conjunction with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and first opened its doors at the start of 2020.  

The design incorporates abundant green, shaded, open spaces; optimum natural light and ventilation for wellbeing; in-built flexibility and adaptability to allow daily customisation and future re-purposing; and technology-enabled indoor and outdoor spaces which have been future-proofed to accommodate rapid changes in technology and pedagogy. 

The unique and dynamic building identifies the school’s presence in the city and plays a critical role in establishing a benchmark for vertical learning in an urban and subtropical setting. It brings a distinct Queensland identity complementary to the local area, maximising views, and enhancing connectivity to its surrounds. Vertical learning environments are on the rise, especially in high-density locations, where land availability is scarce.  The FVSSC is the first of its kind in Brisbane. 

“The vertical design, local community focus, unique partnership with QUT, and the vision to create a new model of personalised secondary state schooling, where the learner and learning are at the centre, are key elements that have informed design decisions,” Chad said. 

“Providing a presence on both street frontages was critical. FVSSC is not just a place of learning for the students of the Inner North, but provides a place of social cohesion, for community engagement and a sense of belonging.” 

The Fortitude Valley State Secondary College (FVSSC) opened in 2020 providing students living in Brisbane’s inner-city north a local school. Stage One of the school opened in 2020 to the first intake of grade 7 students. The vertical learning building “Barrambin” is located to St Pauls Tce providing a highly visible display of a “new” evolution in Queensland Education. Stage Two will provide an indoor sports centre, and senior specialist learning spaces in the form of a multi-storey building on the site of the former Brisbane City Council Depot on 25 Green Square Close.

ThomsonAdsett is proud to be engaged with the development of Stage Two of this project, working again with our delivery partners Hutchinson Builders. We’ll also work alongside the School, The Department of Education and Donald Cant Watts Corke as the Project Manager to develop and deliver the COX design.