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Aitken College Cumberland Greenvale, VIC

The Cumberland Building is a new learning facility for the Junior School at Aitken College, an independent P-12 co-educational school located in the growth area of Greenvale in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. It is the first project delivered through Hayball’s 2-stage Masterplan for the campus, that also involves a 20-year vision for the overall campus and a 10-year vision for the Junior School. Driven by the imperative to accommodate a growing student body, the overarching brief was to forge innovative learning spaces conducive to collaborative, independent, and play-based learning that would uphold the values and pedagogical vision of the college.

The state-of-the-art facility accommodates two learning neighbourhoods for 270 students, a new Administration area, and a hub for specialist curricula programs including art, technology, and the performing arts. Each neighbourhood consists of three home bases for up to 90 students, arranged around a shared learning commons. Within and between these areas are a range of smaller interstitial settings that provide for a diverse set of learning activities and scales. Each base connects to generous covered outdoor learning areas where opportunities for creative play include window seats, cubbies, climbing surfaces, rope platforms, and soft-fall embankments, and are integrated into the fabric of the building.

Connecting the two learning neighbourhoods is a generous circulation spine. Conceived as a grand gallery, this space serves as a flexible breakout and exhibition area for the specialist learning programs. At the heart of this, a framed timber wall showcases the creation, presentation, and display of specialist projects.

The Cumberland Building design places a strong emphasis on sustainability, with ample natural ventilation and daylight to learning spaces, and rooftop solar panels. Data on the building’s indoor and outdoor environment is captured and displayed digitally in the Gallery as an integral learning resource. These eco-friendly elements, together with the link to outdoor learning environments, a wildlife corridor and hobby farm, act as a tangible educational tool fostering a culture of environmental consciousness among students.