Russell Yelland

Salisbury East High School Performing Arts Centre

Completed: 2015
Client: SA Department for Education / Salisbury East High School

Despite the daily limitations of 40-year-old infrastructure, Salisbury East High School’s reputation for performing arts education was undeniable. Nothing screams commitment like regular Music, Art and Dance (MAD) nights staged in draughty, converted shelter sheds. Our guiding principle with the new design was to ensure every example of artistic expression be respected, and its creator valued.

What we did: Secondary school upgrade
New build
Performing Arts centre
Music, Art and Dance
Creative Arts facilities

To draw out the full brief, we met with staff and students, and asked detailed questions to learn how a new performing arts precinct design might inspire further creativity, offer flexibility for curriculum delivery and put the school’s inimitable artistic spirit on show.

Dance classes and performances now take pride of place in a 150-seat auditorium with retractable bleachers for flexibility of use. On this previously exposed site, improving indoor/outdoor connection was key, so we designed a folding raked roof form with deep eaves that provides shelter from the weather, wrapping underfoot as an additional outdoor stage. Bifold doors extend the auditorium, connecting with a new amphitheatre beyond. Covered walkways around the building offer students better protection during lesson transitions and further all-weather breakout options for group work.


Indoor spaces carefully consider lighting requirements for optimal displays of rotating student artwork. Clerestory windows wash corridors and displays with natural light, and brightly lit cut-out shelving is finished with pops of colour. Rotating student exhibits in the communal spaces demonstrate a proud performance culture. This is a proudly creative school, now with infrastructure to match.

“Russell & Yelland were highly supportive of the school’s requirements during the construction phase and worked relentlessly in overcoming budget challenges, student access and timeline issues, without compromising on the integrity and quality of the design.”

Jacqui van Ruiten, Principal

Photography credits:David Sievers