The rebuilding of the heritage-listed Fives classroom at Preshil’s Primary campus has been commended in this year’s UNESCO Asia‐Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
Now in its 20th anniversary year, the UNESCO awards program recognizes exemplary efforts to restore or conserve structures, places and properties of heritage value, and distinguishes the best conservation practices throughout the Asia‐Pacific region. The jury citation for Preshil’s Honourable Mention stated:
“The 5s Classroom restoration has resulted in safeguarding a Modernist building while honouring the original pedagogical traditions espoused by this pioneering school. The rigorous, evidence-based approach to conservation is reflected in the great efforts made to find suitable materials and techniques to preserve the aesthetic and spatial qualities of the original design. Through lively engagement with the school community and alumni, as well as present-day students, the project reflects and sustains the spirit of place associated with Preshil The Margaret Lyttle Memorial School.”
In her response to the UNESCO award, Preshil Principal Marilyn Smith emphasized that the architectural values of the classroom, originally opened in 1964, had been tested by 55 cycles of young children. “Our job was to enable twenty‐first century learners to ask different questions of the same building. We made the decision to replicate the original classroom designed by Kevin Borland with the students of the day, and transmit its full pedagogical potential to future generations of students and educationalists, rather than continue with reactive maintenance of the old building.”
Accepting the award on behalf of Preshil on Monday (14 October) morning was Dato’ Dr Lim Huat Bee, Honorary Consul of the Australian Consulate in Penang. The award will be relayed back to the school in coming weeks and formally presented at a celebration with Preshil students and community.