The Branwhite Centre: Learning differently

Andrew Pender
Practice Director

The Branwhite Centre represents a new architectural language and typology for the William Clarke College campus. It’s also a direct reflection of the College’s ambitions for teaching and learning. It was conceived through a major investment in consultation and discussion, to “deep dive” into the College’s goals for active, collaborative and cross disciplinary learning.

We worked closely with College stakeholders across a range of disciplines, to listen, to explore options, and to test ideas. This collaborative approach ensured that the College’s needs and ambitions were at the centre of the design.

The building accommodates the STEAM disciplines, layering and intersecting their programs whist celebrating their individual specialties. Specialist areas include workshops, laboratories, art and media studios and kitchens, complemented by generous break out areas. The practical component of the curriculum, and the students’ work, is brought to the fore within the core of the plan, a direct response to the College’s desire to “make learning visible”.

STEM literacy and education have been declared a national priority by government, however this is being thwarted by declining performance and lack of student engagement. Australia’s PISA score in mathematics declined from a ranking of 13 of 57 in 2006 to a rank of 25 of 72 in 2015. During the same period, the Australian science score dropped from 8 of 57 to 14 of 72. In addition, whilst the substantial majority of government funded projects target engagement rather than achievement (dandalopartners 2020), when measured by upper secondary subject choice engagement is also in decline.

STEAM collaboration opportunities

The Branwhite Centre, and the teaching and learning it promotes, aim to address these challenges, and to provide the students with the skills appropriate for a rapidly changing world of work. 

We’re in the process of finalising our Post Occupancy Evaluation, which combines online surveys, interviews and observations. The response has been great – both considered and enthusiastic, from students and staff alike. We look forward to carrying what we’ve learned into the next stage of the College Masterplan.