Russell Yelland

Concordia College – Hub and Nautilus Centre

Completed: 2017
Client: Concordia College, Highgate
Awards:Commendation, 2018 Australian Institute of Architects SA Chapter Awards
Commendation, 2018 Learning Environments Australasia SA Chapter Awards

It’s not just good teachers who inspire curiosity in education.

Returning to Concordia College in Highgate in 2014, we explored how landmark STEAM and administration facilities might motivate enquiry, both for students and for those passing by.

What we did: New build
Secondary school redevelopment
STEAM-inspired design
Administration hub
Staged works

Reviewing an existing master plan, we could see the school’s long-term goals would be better served with a new build rather than a refurbishment. By staging the development, we minimised disruption to the curriculum, creating temporary labs in the newly finished Hub before demolishing the 1960s science block.

The Nautilus Centre is now a vibrant and flexible two-storey STEAM facility that incorporates learning theories in playful design details. Dichroic glass on the façade changes colour throughout the day, visible indoors and from the street. Fractal mathematical series like the Fibonacci sequence and the Mandelbrot set appear in various aspects of the design, too: in walls, ceilings, lighting, artwork and soft furnishings.

A key challenge in responding to the brief was understanding the volume and flexibility requirements of the school’s technical equipment – catering from chemistry and physics lessons through to robotics and 3D printing. Despite fixed service turrets, laboratory benches are mobile, offering configuration flexibility that has proved attractive to visiting university tutors. We also worked to improve room transparency, specifying large format sliding doors to extend learning spaces and glass walls that put science on display.


With a passionate former science teacher as principal, the school proved keen to work with us to achieve showpiece elements like the five-metre Foucault pendulum suspended in the Nautilus’s stairwell. With its two-storey void, this building opens a narrow site to space and light, centralising administration, finance and student services and offering a home for drama studies. The Hub also completes the school’s Winchester Street frontage, which includes two earlier Russell & Yelland designed facilities: the Murtoa building (2011) and Yangadlitya Resource Centre (2006).

Photography credits:David Sievers