Barwon Valley School modernisation

Barwon Valley School modernisation

The Barwon Valley School is a special development school offering a unique educational environment for students with moderate to profound intellectual disabilities between the ages of 5 to 18. In 2018 FMSA Architecture was engaged as Principal Consultant to full architectural services for the modernisation works.

FMSA engaged closely with the School and Department during the AMP 2 and Masterplan process to priortise works resulting in upgrades to the Administration building, improved classrooms and circulation, new fitness equipment room, and maintenance works including asbestos removal and rust repair.

Glenallen School Stage 1 hoist

Glenallen School Stage 1

In 2016 FMSA Architecture was engaged by the Department of Education and Training (DET) to provide architectural services to modernise the Glenallen School. The Glenallen School provides specialised education services for children with intellectual and/or physical disabilities.

The scope of the project included upgrades to 6 existing toilet and change areas including a pool change area. The new facilities were designed in accordance with “Changing Places” guidelines to accommodate the rigorous needs of the students, carers and teachers.

The sensitively designed toilet areas feature electric hoists, automated doors and colour themed areas to define gender specific activity zones. Designed in line with DET regulations and requirements, the new facilities support the needs of the staff and students.

FMSA Architecture has subsequently been engaged to under Stage 2 works including redevelopment of the entry ramp and foyer. Stage 2 is set to commence construction in July 2019.

Wesley College Chum Creek Mess Hut

FMSA was engaged by Wesley College to design a new environmentally sustainable learning centre and ‘mess hall’ at the Chum Creek Camp near Healesville after a fire destroyed the original mess hut centre.

This project was the winning proposal for the design of an environmentally sustainable rural education and accommodation facility for Wesley College. The innovative, user-friendly design and willingness to engage with the school community, including board members, administrative and teaching staff was a key factor in the success of this project.

Located at the centre of the camp, the ‘Mess Hut’ Learning Centre is the central gathering place for students. The centre houses the ‘mess hall’ and a large flexible space for social and educational uses in addition to essential amenities including kitchen, storage, first aid office, drying room and large outdoor deck overlooking the landscaped ‘quadrangle’.

Envisioned as more than a traditional educational facility, the building incorporates sustainable principles, materials and systems that allow the building to become a hands on learning tool in the ‘earth education’ curriculum delivered at the Camp.

Every component of the building was analysed for its ability to reduce energy and water consumption and minimise internal and external pollution.  Core principles of sustainability and environmental conscious design ideas incorporated into the facility include:


  • Sustainable principles including orientation, solar access, wind protection, water collection, passive ventilation
  • Passive climate control via solar chimneys and passive evaporative cooling to provide an optimum comfort throughout the building.
  • The use of low embodied energy materials, recycled & sustainable production materials
  • Efficient building systems such as double glazing and heat storage for temperature control in building mass, have been fully incorporated.
  • Performance monitoring as a learning tool including water collection levels, heating/cooling and ventilation
  • Site excavation works planned & managed to preserve natural habitats
  • Waste water biologically treated via mini ecosystems to produce by product for irrigation
  • Establish landscaping to add thermal mass & support indigenous flora and fauna

The buildings sustainable systems are designed to invite user participation for their management. School students manipulate the building’s heating, cooling and ventilation systems by operating louvres, turning on the water drip system and controlling awnings all of which demonstrate how natural systems can be implemented by the use of simple physics and geometry with intelligent design.

The Chum Creek Campus is a project that demonstrates how FMSA is able to adapt a creative design to meet the designated needs of a client and promote an awareness of environmental issues among young people.


MLC Banksia Campus

FMSA was engaged by Methodist Ladies’ College (MLC) to develop a masterplan and architectural design to connect their two existing Pelican and Wurabinda camps into one outdoor education campus. The resulting Banksia Outdoor Education Campus occupies eight hectares in the rural setting of Banksia Peninsula providing an outdoor learning experience for students from Years 5 to 8. Designed to deliver MLC’s Education Outdoors program, the campus allows students to gain an understanding of one’s surroundings and the environmental impact of humans.

The buildings can be broadly divided into three categories: teaching and common spaces, equipment storage and washing amenities plus accommodation spaces for staff and students. The buildings can be broadly divided into three categories: teaching and common spaces, equipment storage and washing amenities plus accommodation spaces for staff and students.

FMSA developed a campus master plan to unify the existing facilities into one cohesive campus which included the upgrade of existing small buildings, replace dilapidated ones and relocate structures, where appropriate, within the constraints of the landscape.

The buildings have been designed to connect the students with the rural environment as a real experience and are designed to blend with the landscape. Being a remote site, the materials selected are deliberately modest. Elements are also used as teaching aids, demonstrating passive solar principles and educating students on the importance of limited resources such as water and energy.

Through the plan, independent locations defined by style of accommodation and setting will enable year 5-8 students to experience the environment and living in a shared community. The managed environmental approach is designed to develop respect for the fragile flora and produce buildings that exhibit sustainable performance characteristics.

New and upgraded facilities include the Boole Poole Lodge, drying room and gear storage, amenities blocks, student accommodation units, and outdoor gathering places.

Boole Poole Lodge, the focus of the camp, has been upgraded with a larger, north-oriented dining room and awnings constructed adjacent to a new entry courtyard to create an outdoor ‘room’ extending from the living area.

Other upgrades enhance the central learning and dining building, accommodation huts with new porches providing much-needed storage space and a transition between the indoors and outdoors. Special features are designed to reveal a different experience for each year’s students.  Water collection tanks and a new septic system that uses wastewater treated on site; assist the efficient running of the site.

The MLC Banksia Peninsula project demonstrates our ability to create a responsive design within the confines of a specific site for buildings that most suitably reflect the particular educational, environmental and social values of the young students who spend time at this outdoor camp.

School for Student Leadership Gnurad-Gundiji Campus

As part of the School for Student Leadership, the Gnurad-Gundidj Campus at Glenormiston operates as a residential education facility 45 students from the state education system are chosen to attend the centre for one school term.

The educational rationale for the centre is to provide an experience that fosters independence and self-reliance in students as well as developing communication, project management and leadership skills. A further focus is to encourage an interaction with the environment that nurtures the students and provides them with an understanding of the ecological significance of the natural environment.

The building design takes advantage of expansive panoramic views across the Western Plain and aims to express functional performance and connection with the landscape. Facilities are configured to ensure students develop sharing skills, amenities and resources are not over-abundant but limited to ensure sustainable responses.

Operationally, the building design seeks to provide staff with clear supervision within the building and flexible spaces that accommodate a range of uses. Such economical space utilisation also allows for future curriculum development.

School for Student Leadership Snowy River Campus

The School for Student Leadership Snowy River Campus is a Department of Education and Training initiative offering a residential educational experience for Year 9 government school students to develop personal skills, leadership qualities, fitness and an awareness of rural environmental issues.

The building was designed to foster a sense of community in the form of a village hub with reception area, dining hall, learning centre, kitchen, storage and staff areas. From this hub spring residential accommodation arms articulated to express organic growth. The connection to the landscape is reinforced with the incorporation of environmentally sensitive design principles such as a thermal flue, which assists in managing the natural heating and cooling of the living environment.

Construction efficiency was essential given the remote location. This was achieved through the selection of a pre-built panellised construction system, designed to provide a visually rich composition. The design creates an immediate welcoming presence in the landscape.

2007 Winner CEFPI Victorian Chapter Architectural New Construction New School

2007 Commendation School Design Awards 

BER Program Portfolio

In 2009 the Building the Education Revolution (BER) program was initiated by the Federal Government to fund new facilities, refurbishment and maintenance of existing primary and secondary school infrastructure in schools across Australia.

As a part of this program FMSA was a member of a team of architects completing works throughout Victoria.

FMSA’s package of schools concentrated on works throughout Western Victoria. FMSA were responsible for the delivery of 34 new facilities for schools as a part of the program including works at 28 primary schools, 3 secondary schools and 3 Catholic primary schools.

New facilities built under the BER Program included new classrooms, flexible learning spaces, learning corridors, multi-purpose classrooms, kitchenettes, staff centres and hubs, libraries and gymnasiums.

Richmond Rowing Club

Located on the banks of the Yarra River, the new extension of the Richmond Rowing Club creates an elegant bookend to the iconic recreational rowing shed precinct.

Jointly funded by the Richmond Rowing Club and Methodist Ladies’ College, FMSA was engaged to design the additions, doubling the existing footprint of the original 1960’s brutalist style concrete structure.

The new ‘wing’ incorporates expanded boat and equipment storage at ground level, with a new flexible space providing spaces for training, education and functions on the level above orientated around an outdoor deck overlooking the Yarra River and Melbourne City skyline.

Delineating between the past and the present, the new addition is characterised by the striking timber battened exterior and ‘jewel box’ effect created by the glazing on the upper level. The concrete-and-glass balcony ties together the original and the new, with the terrace providing much-needed outdoor space to take advantage of both the northern light and the unrivalled views of Melbourne.

Internally, the basket weave style plywood ceiling designed by FMSA in the previous refurbishment is continued across the new addition, contrasting the concrete block work and glazing.

The new Richmond Rowing Club addresses the city, the gardens and the river to create a subtle architectural expression of rowing and the sporting culture.

Photographer: Latreille Architectural Photography

SMAC L2 RHD concept

FMSA was engaged by the University of Melbourne to review the existing area dedicated to Research High Degree students and create an inviting solution that improved the quality of the study and respite space.

Our Interior Design team consulted directly with University stakeholders to identify key functional and occupant issues. The outcomes informed the development of two design options for costing and presentation.

Each concept identified opportunities to improve spatial efficiency & create hybrid zones for study, meetings, circulation & social interaction to foster collaborative learning environment.

Eastern Hub

Beginning in 2010, FMSA Architecture worked in collaboration with client genU (formerly Karingal) to develop a new community centre that supported their specialist programs while creating an inclusive centre for the local community.  In operation for over 60 years, the existing facility operated by genU – a not for profit organisation providing a range of services for people with a disability or mental illness, disadvantaged and older Australians – was dated, closed off to the local community and ill equipped to meet modern accessibility standards.

The result was the Eastern Hub – a facility for the whole community.

The Eastern Hub vision combines two core principles: ‘to provide first class disability care facilities within a de-institutionalised setting’, and ‘to be inclusive for all by design and culture’. It provides a unique environment offering new opportunities for interaction with the public as a key component of a holistic-care philosophy.

Servicing the needs of inter-generational community groups, the Eastern Hub includes a series of welcoming and engaging indoor and outdoor spaces including a community garden, cafe, specialised training kitchen, accessible toilets with hoists and large flexible multi-purpose rooms for hire including art rooms, computer room and classrooms open to the public as well as training and support agencies.

The Eastern Hub provides fresh opportunities for interaction between genU’s clients, staff and the general public.  Implementing this new mix of functions required substantial change management within genU.  Successful engagement during the feasibility phase with genU staff, clients, parents and the local community meant that the project received a high ongoing level of support.

Completed in April 2016, the Eastern Hub provides a great opportunity for people to meet in an inclusive environment that is both socially and environmentally sustainable.


Winner – 2017 Regional Building Awards – South West : Excellence in construction of Commercial Buildings over $6 m 

Finalist: 2017 AIA Awards – Regional Prize