Russell Yelland

Flying High

Flying High

Director, Stewart Caldwell, and Graduate of Architecture, Georgie Warren, attended the Association for Learning Environments Australasia 2023 Conference – re:Activate, in Christchurch, NZ, last month, accepting a commendation in the LEA Design Awards on behalf of our team.

The Port Lincoln High School (PLHS) Redevelopment was commended in the New Building/s or Facilities – Large category, and received particular attention for the extensive consultation we conducted with diverse stakeholder groups.

The 2022-completed project delivered a much-needed upgrade for specialist curriculum delivery at PLHS, and welcomed a new Year 7 cohort and Port Lincoln Special School students onto the site. Deeply connecting with clients and a diversity of end users is one of our practice’s great strengths, so it was terrific to see this recognised in the jury citation.

“The Port Lincoln High School Redevelopment exemplifies the positive outcomes of extensive consultation with stakeholders, including staff, students, community, and First Nations representatives… The project is commended for its inclusive engagement process, incorporation of Aboriginal design approaches, emphasis on accessibility, and strategic planning to meet budget constraints.”

1/3 Curved corner masonry hints at the embracing gesture of the Aboriginal Education room.

2/3 The circular motif, extended to other learning areas.

3/3 Generous breakouts have careful acoustic treatments to minimise disruption to adjacent zones.


Our promotion of inclusivity via all-weather links was noted, and we were thrilled, too, to see the curved corner masonry singled out by the judges.

Aboriginal Education features strongly at PLHS, and our colleagues at Mulloway Studio helped us with some of the early workshops, identifying ways to enhance dialogue and cultural understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, staff and community through the design. The rounded brick façade proved an important demonstration of the value the school places on Indigenous culture via a culturally significant motif.

“The curved corner masonry signals to the street: this is a place of welcome and intention,” the jury citation notes, “…a lasting generosity towards First Nations education on site.” This is a sentiment echoed by Aboriginal Education staff at the school, too. In an interview for a recent PLHS video showcasing the development, Aboriginal Secondary Education Transition Officer, Nicole Carter, noted the design’s positive impact on Indigenous students, staff and the extended community:

“The whole structure of the room, being circular, is just a really good, natural, cultural feel. Parents feel really comfortable coming in and talking to the staff. It’s just so welcoming that you want to come to work every day!”

1/2 The PLHS development at dusk.

2/2 The special school annexe includes dedicated therapy areas, with oversight from central, staff zones.


It’s worth noting here that happy clients are the best award an architecture practice can secure. We loved reading the school’s comments about our LEA commendation recently:

“Whilst awards are always nice, what you’ve provided for our school community – and what these spaces foster and facilitate – will continue to give back and impact more than you will ever know. Thank you!”

It’s that kind of feedback that keeps us hungry to continue our own learning journey, finding innovative ways to deliver meaningful learning environments to schools and their communities.

Learn more about our work on the Port Lincoln High School Redevelopment.