Victor Harbor High School

Located 80 kms south of Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula, Victor Harbor High School is the first state high school to comprehensively employ principles of personalised learning into the design of its senior school campus. The formality of the traditional classroom is replaced with a more open, socially interactive, wireless technology environment comprising of flexible spaces, student commons, learning streets, courtyards and piazzas. The learning environment is one where students and teachers can socialise, exchange thoughts and ideas and acquire information either sitting at a desk, lounging on a sofa, on the carpet or on a bench under a tree.


As the social and economic benefits of ensuring that no student is left behind becomes obvious, the teacher’s classroom is giving way to an information ubiquitous, multi-faceted learning environment tuned to address the needs of each individual student. The Information Revolution and a student-centred approach to learning is replacing the traditional ‘Henry Ford production-line’ method of teaching.


The driver of this new approach is a flexible, open learning philosophy where a more collaborative environment encourages cross communication between students and teachers alike. Technology forms a key part of this approach, with teaching methods shifting from paper based learning to computers, wireless networks and digital IT information transfer.


The function of the building and the layout relationship between the spaces, informs the overall design of the building. While essentially modular based, the different areas come together to form a single senior school campus encapsulating a series of internal courtyards. The integration of outside space is designed as directly accessible, usable adjuncts to the internal learning environment.


Together with The Department of Education and Children’s Services and consultant team, Hames Sharley recognized the benefits of incorporating ESD principles within the new facilities. Good environmental qualities provide a positive work environment for pupils and staff alike, therefore reducing energy consumption and waste, and encouraging the reuse of resources benefits both the school and its wider community as a whole.


An important consideration was the provision of daylight and natural ventilation within the buildings and the ability for staff and students to monitor and control their environment. Outdoor learning opportunities and maximum flexibility have also been critical design considerations. Paved and landscaped courtyard areas within the building enclosure provide students and teachers the opportunity to work outside, to relax, have lunch or spend their free time in attractive outside environments, screened off from the rest of the school and the public.

The building’s clean lines and contemporary forms are intended to reflect innovation and the new age and present the school to its community as a progressive, state-of-the-art educational facility at the forefront of world trends in education.


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