Major Projects at St Michael’s

One of our goals under our Strategic Direction: Towards 2030 is to develop, engaging and contemporary places for learning that reflect our values, spark curiosity and enhance wellbeing.

Determined not to take a piecemeal approach, over the past few years we have undertaken a comprehensive planning process, assessing every aspect of the campus and consulting widely with students, staff and parents. The result is a visionary and all-encompassing Facilities Management Plan (FMP) that will guide campus development for decades to come.

As a precursor to this long-term plan, the first elements of campus redevelopment have already come to fruition. In 2023, we opened the Centre for Inquiry and Innovation (CII) in the Junior School, and the Performing Arts Centre, St George’s, as a state-of-the-art performance and rehearsal facility. Both have proved to be invaluable additions to campus life.

You can also assist the School with this, and other important projects, by donating to our Building Fund. Find out more here.

A star is born!

The much-loved St George’s Church has been reborn as the new Performing Arts Centre, St George’s. This outstanding new facility was officially opened on Thursday 4 May 2023 with an exciting program of performances featuring guest artists, students, Old Michaelians and staff.

In its first 12 months, it has been the venue for a broad range of performances and a versatile location for a variety of other School activities. It has been used for lessons, student forums, staff presentations, a gathering of Old Michaelians, and for the Ourspace of VCE digital artworks, in addition to its daily use for rehearsals. There is no doubt that the redevelopment has fulfilled and exceeded all expectations for the role this much-loved heritage building can play in the life of the School.

Throughout the redevelopment, careful attention has been given to the many heritage features which make the Performing Arts Centre unique. The magnificent, vaulted timber ceiling, the heritage organ by renowned organ makers Lewis and Sons of London, and, of course, the beautiful stained-glass windows, crafted by leading artisans at the end of the 19th century, have been fully restored.

State-of-the-art facilities have also been included in the redevelopment; these include:

  • High-quality sound and lighting systems, including the next-generation L-ISA sound system, similar to the one in the refurbished Opera House.
  • A special sprung floor for dance and movement activities.
  • Electronically controlled blackout curtains for various performance configurations.
  • Flexible seating arrangements with a capacity for almost 400 spectators.

Community members have generously supported the St George’s Performing Arts Centre by dedicating seats or restoring windows. This has greatly impacted our students, inspiring them with the beauty of the space and state-of-the-art facilities. Those interested in backstage roles also benefit from using cutting-edge technology, providing an advantage for future employment. By supporting a window or a seat, donors have revitalised this heritage building, creating a unique environment for our students. You and your family can still contribute. Visit here to learn more.

Centre for Inquiry and Innovation

The Centre for Inquiry and Innovation (CII), opened in March 2023, is a hub for research and deep learning. It complements existing learning spaces and fosters a culture of curiosity, problem-solving, and inquiry learning.

Key features include:

  • Adaptable spaces for different learning activities and styles.
  • Multi-functional rooms with student-influenced design elements.
  • A variety of resources, including books, technology, 3D printer, and STEM materials.
  • Spaces for clubs, classes, and staff development sessions.

The CII has been used extensively by various programs. The Year 4 ‘Tomorrows Leaders for Sustainability’ program used the CII for community engagement and collaborative projects. The Year 6 ‘Enterprising Futures’ and ‘Imaginative Architects’ programs used the CII for research and product development.

Outdoor spaces honour our indigenous heritage and provide additional areas for learning and gathering. The CII’s design fosters a dynamic and inclusive learning environment, making it a valuable asset for our learning programs today and into the future.

Award winning spaces

The Performing Arts Centre, St George’s, was awarded the Excellence in Construction of Commercial Buildings $10m-15m at the Master Builders Victoria 2023 Excellence in Construction Awards (builders: SJ Higgins). It was also the winner of the Learning Environments Australasia Design Awards (2023 Learning Environments Design Award for Victoria and Tasmania) for modernisation of a large building. More recently Kneeler Design Architects, who designed the redevelopment, received a prestigious 2024 Australian Institute of Architects Award (Victorian Chapter) in the Heritage Architecture category.

In equally exciting news, the CII at St Michael’s has been recognised as an Excellence Awardee at the Australian Education Awards in the Innovation in Learning Environment Design category. This award acknowledges the transformative role the CII plays in facilitating student-led, research-based learning in the primary years. The adaptable spaces within the CII enable the School to focus student learning on the co-creation of knowledge, while cultivating skills in investigation and research and nurturing attitudes for active, self-directed learning through the design-thinking process.

A sustainable focus

St Michael’s is committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship, which is a focus as we continue to develop our campus. We have made significant strides in waste management, renewable energy, and water conservation.

Key sustainability initiatives include:

  • A comprehensive Waste Management System that has boosted recycling rates from 13% to 35% in just two terms.
  • Transition to renewable energy, making us a net energy exporter on weekends and school holidays.
  • Water-efficient irrigation systems and environmentally friendly plantings.

Our efforts have been recognised with the ResourceSmart Schools Award for Campus Infrastructure and Operations School of the Year. We’re proud of our progress and remain committed to reducing our environmental impact. For more information, visit our sustainability page here.

What's next

In the coming years, St Michael’s will continue to maximise the campus footprint and create vertical spaces, both under and above the existing structures. By removing internal constraints and providing contiguous precincts that will provide more open spaces and foster connection and collaboration and deliver enhanced facilities for sport, health and wellbeing, STEM, an extended Performing Arts Precinct and much more. Of course, such an ambitious undertaking cannot be realised immediately. Detailed feasibility studies are now
underway along with the development of schematic designs and investigation of planning approvals. This work will continue over the next year, and we expect to make a major announcement about Stage 1 of the project early in 2025, the year in which we will also celebrate our 130th anniversary. We will, of course, keep our community informed about the progress of this exciting and ambitious project over the coming months.

The outstanding outcomes realised with the CII and Performing Arts Centre reflects the care and attention that was given to their planning to ensure they exemplified excellence in both form and function. We intend to continue this approach as we reshape the St Michael’s campus as a creative, innovative and flexible learning environment for our students.

For all enquiries, please contact:

Mr Farai Mufuka
Director of Business
Telephone: 03 8530 3275
Email: fmufuka@stmichaels.vic.edu.au

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