Russell Yelland

Playful perspective in Port Lincoln

Playful perspective in Port Lincoln

Asking primary school students to “dream big” and draw their ideal campus can transform a design brief.

We received some adventurous requests, like shark tanks and waterslides. This kind of consultative and imaginative exercise serves twin purposes.

Blue sky thinking empowers the end user to take ownership of change in any development, but it also helps architects to identify community priorities, how the end user will move about a space and what they will prize. In running this process with the students of St Joseph’s Port Lincoln, we learned of a community’s love of the outdoors, of playfulness, and of connection with an open environment by the sea.

1/2 When this purpose-built combined primary school and preschool building opens in 2022, Russell & Yelland will celebrate 70 years of continuous work with St Joseph’s.

2/2 Proposed outdoor areas will encourage nature play and discovery.


Nearing the end of the documentation phase, we have maximised every opportunity to capture young people’s imaginations through the design. With the school expanding its intake to include a preschool program, we balanced support for formal curriculum delivery with an emphasis on play-based learning.

An overt nature focus and child-friendly views from the tall feature windows.

1/1 An overt nature focus and child-friendly views from the tall feature windows.

The outdoor environment will be a crucial component of a playful design. We look forward to working with landscape architects, Oxigen, to incorporate fixed equipment alongside more freeform, self-determined exploration zones. Views of the outdoors will be promoted from within, and at child’s eye level wherever possible.

As with many of our projects we are maximising opportunities for flexible use of space. There will be 16 new flexible learning areas in the primary school component of the building, including dedicated STEM teaching facilities. Breakouts will feature, too, expanding and contracting zones to cater for between 10 and 150 users for a variety of learning and gathering purposes.

Construction is expected to commence in early 2021.