Russell Yelland

Thinking of building? Wait.

Thinking of building? Wait.

New education clients routinely remark that we are the first architects to analyse their student timetables in depth. A highly consultative methodology gives us a decisive edge as specialist education architects.

Uncovering the brief behind the brief leads to tailor-made facilities that might very well put the school on the map. But these are not always new builds.

While a new facility is sometimes appropriate, we know this does not always represent the school’s long term capital works objectives, nor the best use of school funds. Our detailed, early research builds the business case for change by demonstrating the capacity and utilisation of existing facilities. Crucially, this helps us to answer that persistent question we hear from school leadership: should we refurbish or start afresh?

After eight decades in practice, we know that data is a designer’s best friend. Timetables demonstrate how well an existing building is used; whether teachers or students are constantly on the move; and if specialist facilities are underutilised. To improve the teaching and learning experience, we must start here. This data also arms us with the information required to minimise disruption to learning during construction.

1/2 Student input is key to the design process.

2/2 Construction of the Caritas Centre was carefully planned at Nazareth to minimise disruption to the school.


Next we move to listening – and we do this as broadly as possible. Students often differ from teachers in their perspectives on the value and efficacy of learning environments, and we can learn a great deal from our structured consultation with them. Teacher feedback is likewise vital, and we guide the conferencing process with both parties with insightful questions that can highlight any impediments to meaningful change.

Finally, we consider any smaller or incremental modifications that might deliver generous benefits. These might include addressing issues such as: low levels of natural light or poor indoor air quality; poor acoustic or thermal performance; or whether better connections between spaces will enhance the learning experience.

So, if your buildings are looking tired, or Covid-safe practices have highlighted overcrowding issues, don’t jump straight into commissioning that extra building. Start a conversation with trusted experts who will help you to assess your current assets and arrive at an economical plan for engaging designs of lasting impact. Consider your project objectives from different angles. What might positive change look like?

Communication and clarity of objectives are the keys to any successful project.

1/1 Communication and clarity of objectives are the keys to any successful project.

Here are some early questions to consider before you engage our team:

  • Will outdoor improvements be as important as those indoors?
  • Do you need to improve and disappear technology?
  • Will sustainability be measured in diverse ways for your community?
  • Have you considered fluctuations in population growth, and how you might attract new students post-Covid?
  • Do you know exactly what your school population will need in five years?
  • Has the pandemic unearthed issues you never knew existed?
  • Would you like to appraise designs virtually and in detail before any work happens on site?
  • How important is ease of maintenance?
  • How will you ensure certainty about time and cost (clue: contact us!)

To discuss your proposed capital works project, contact Directors John Held, Alistair McHenry or Stewart Caldwell, Russell & Yelland’s award-winning education experts.

John Held – 0417 840 337
Alistair McHenry – 0417 500 401
Stewart Caldwell – 0402 044 118