Port School Middle Years Redevelopment

Case Study



Port School sits at the periphery of Fremantle and provides education and support to socially disadvantaged and at-risk students. Port School is radically different to mainstream school and offers the following programs to students in its care:

  • As a Registered Training Organisation, the school is accredited to deliver vocational educational and training services.
  • The Outreach Program has been designed to support students academically, socially and emotionally and to deepen their connection to school life.
  • A Young Parent Centre provides teenage mums with the support they need to continue their education.
  • An Early Learning Centre is located next door to the Young Parent Centre and provides care for children aged 6 weeks to 3 years.
  • A Mobile Classroom operates out of a bus and enables the most disengaged students to complete their education off-site

Demand for the school is growing, and in response, the school acquired a neighbouring property to enable it to expand.

Young people deserve to have the world at their feet, the opportunity to realise their dreams, sound mental and physical health and at least one adult who believes in them, pushes them and offers unconditional support and advice. Anne M Gee, Port School Chair

What did we do?

Our job was to design a cohesive campus plan and a new Middle School precinct. The new lot offered the opportunity to create a new vehicular access to the campus, separating vehicles and pedestrian traffic while providing potential areas for future growth.

The design objectives were revealed through conversations and workshops with staff and student representatives. Given the complex of needs of the school and its students, this dialogue was ongoing throughout the design process.

The new Middle School is made up of a mix of flexible classrooms, breakout spaces, outdoor learning areas, staff areas and general amenity. Natural light, fresh air and strategic window placement for visual connection are key to all these spaces.

A covered verandah provides a comfortable transitional space between indoors and out and connects the new precinct to the Young Parent Centre and broader campus.

The outdoor learning areas and landscape provide a variety of spaces, both fast and slow to cater for different personalities and needs. The varying options for learning areas provide the school with flexible, sheltered areas to run different programs with ample fresh air and natural light.

The colour palette was inspired by Fremantle Port, with colours arranged like stacked shipping containers. Materials have been selected based on their robustness and current availability.

A perforated metal screen provides both privacy and a visual connection to the adjacent residential street. Graphic designer and artist, Kevin Wilson, facilitated a workshop with students to create an artwork for the screen based on the theme ‘Ocean: in and around.’


What was the impact?

Construction commenced in June 2022 and was completed in early 2023. The new Middle School provides an additional 25 places for students waitlisted and struggling in their current schools.

While the design is modest in size, it’s also functional and joyful. The school’s experienced teaching staff encouraged us to design a building that would act as a respite from mainstream school environments.