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A Refreshed Master Plan is Adapted to a School’s Immediate Pedagogical & Operational Needs

The below images have been included to illustrate the exploration of ideas during our Master Planning process and do not necessarily reflect the school’s final Master Plan. For this reason, we have intentionally removed annotations that would identify the subject school.

Our team began a journey of working with this Queensland school several years ago, engaged by the previous leadership team to develop a 30 year Master Plan. In the years since, the leadership team has changed, as did their strategic plan and immediate priorities, so the new team contacted us to review and revamp the previous plan to suit their new vision.

Through the review process, we were delighted to see that although the school’s vision had changed, and their priorities were now focused on the immediate future rather than three decades, much of the design thinking still applied and was enthusiastically embraced by the school’s new leadership.

We believe this successful Master Planning outcome was due in large part to our processes which focus firstly on analysing the existing site, pedagogical practices, and operational considerations to determine practical ways to improve the campus. Such ideas are generally independent of the school’s vision, and are typically “common sense” or “best practice” solutions and improvements. For example, we analyse:

  • the appropriateness and capacity of existing facilities to meet the needs of the school,

  • outdoor learning, gathering, and play areas,

  • climatic and ecological considerations,

  • rational use of available land,

  • surrounding properties and context

  • town planning controls,

  • paths of travel through the campus,

  • accessibility,

  • visual connectivity and passive supervision,

  • safety and security,

  • street appeal,

  • vehicular access,

  • parking and setdown, and more.

By deeply understanding the above criteria, and how they interplay with the school’s vision, the design concepts that emerge are well-considered and can withstand – for example – a change in school leadership and strategy.

We present diagrams and images investigating these “non-vision” considerations over several discussion-style meetings, asking a lot of questions with the goal of deeply understanding the school community. This understanding goes well beyond just the built fabric of the school, because for us to develop a Master Plan that is bespoke to each school, we must first develop a detailed, nuanced, and holistic picture of their culture, history, geography, and people.

Such discussions naturally flow into what we refer to as “vision” considerations, which are generally driven by the school’s leadership, ethos, and strategic plan, including:

  • ethos and values,

  • culture and desired cultural change,

  • pedagogical and learning outcome aspirations,

  • subject offerings (current and future),

  • student welfare,

  • staff wellbeing and retention,

  • enrolment growth,

  • marketability,

  • budget considerations, and more.

We’re passionate about the power of great architecture, but we know that we don’t have all the answers and that each school knows their community better than anyone else. In our rigorous exploration of potential Master Planning solutions, we reiterate, reinforce and refine our detailed understanding of what the school does, how they do it, and most importantly, why it matters.

In this school’s case, while the “non-vision” design ideas still applied and generated a great deal of excitement amongst the new leadership team, the school’s refreshed vision was to prioritise the immediate future with more realistic, practical, and affordable works to be rolled out in the next 5-10 years, whilst not precluding or obstructing the more visionary elements of the longer-term plan.

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