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Article by Sara Kirby. Images courtesy St George’s Anglican Grammar School.
As cities run out of space and transition from building outward to upward, high-rise education looks to be the way of the future, with Perth already facilitating the country’s first vertical school.
St George’s Anglican Grammar School opened this year, occupying a six-storey refurbished office block, with an oval situated on its rooftop.
It won’t be the only one for long, however, as the NSW Government has decided to build four high-rise schools around Sydney, and Melbourne City Council has approved plans for Haileybury College to construct a 10-storey school in the CBD. With an outdoor terrace and gymnasium on its rooftop, the plans have not come without criticism.
As with any proposed high-rise, nearby residents have voiced concern that their views will be obstructed and that the building will increase congestion. Opposers of vertical schools also argue that they decrease the time children spend outdoors and present issues in the instance of evacuations – one can only imagine trying to get thousands of teenagers to exit a multiple storey building swiftly.
The concept is a new one for Australians, however is already mainstream and effective in other areas of the globe, in places such as Singapore and New York.
In Manhattan, the 76-storey building on 8 Spruce street houses a school for students from early learning levels through to eighth grade. Occupying levels one to five, the school is topped by apartments, a hospital, and public plazas.
The Canadian International School Of Hong Kong is a 14-storey school which had its first nine floors completed in 1999, and in 2002 added an extra five. On the first level is a swimming pool, and outdoor playgrounds are located on the third and sixth.
While high-rise schools don’t feature the expansive grounds of single-storey establishments, rooftop and mid-building yards allow the kids much of the same external play space as traditional school layouts. Vertical education also comes with many benefits that are unmatched by their single-storey counterparts. Being situated in a high-rise means a school can be located close to, or even within, the CBD, providing students with a variety of educational facilities at their doorstep. Children in attendance of Haileybury College, for example, will have the State Library, Melbourne Museum and National Gallery of Victoria – amongst others – all within a four kilometre radius.
As cities become denser and moving up becomes the only clear option, vertical schooling will predictably become more common, yet only time will tell whether it’s marked with prosperity.