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Heritage Report And Conservation Management Plan

Preshil’s distinguished learning environment at Arlington occupies a rare and significant place in the cultural heritage of Victoria. The original allotment dates to the earliest subdivisions of Hawthorn and Kew, and since Margaret (Greta) Lyttle purchased the 10 room brick residence ‘Arlington’ in 1937, eight new buildings have been carefully built on the land. The synergy of buildings, gardens, trees and playground spaces which we see and experience today not only distinguishes the school’s vision, but also design collaborations between Preshil children and the Melbourne architect Kevin Borland (1926-2000) from 1959.

In 1972, the totality of this achievement was recognised in Preshil receiving the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Victorian Chapter Bronze Medal, that profession’s highest honour. In 2005, Preshil was included in the Victorian Heritage Register as a place of architectural, social and historical significance to the state of Victoria.

Our Conservation Works Program enables the school to care for its heritage assets within the context of a prioritised supporting conservation strategy in the short, medium and long term. It is integrated into our strategy to ensure the longevity of its heritage significance and the architectural integrity of the Kevin Borland buildings. Preshil’s Building Fund and fundraising strategy focus on the completion of this capital works plan.

Imaginative And Inspiring Facilities

The learning environments at Preshil are tailor made to engage, challenge and inspire children.

A central part of Preshil’s Strategic Plan is to comprehensively and sensitively improve and conserve the significant buildings for which we are responsible.

Refurbishments and remodellings are completed as necessary to safeguard their sustainability and ensure our students can enjoy truly fit-for-purpose facilities. Planning focuses on flexibility and thoughtful repurposing, respecting the values represented by the modesty and inclusiveness of spaces across the school and providing purpose-built spaces to accommodate an robust learning, active student voice, performances and exhibitions.

Arlington (Kindergarten And Primary School)

The collection of seven buildings at the primary campus designed by the seminal Melbourne architect Kevin Borland is widely acclaimed, including in this feature in Architectural Review Australia. In 1972, Borland was awarded the RAIA bronze medal for this radical and playful series of buildings that give expression to Borland’s personal motto that “architecture is not for the faint hearted”.

Borland (whose six children attended Preshil) famously designed the buildings in collaboration with the students, whom he saw as his clients. The result is a series of extraordinary spaces that challenge and charm – completely different from the sterile classrooms that continue to be the norm today. Unexpected twists, such as secret trapdoors, mezzanines and cubby spaces encourage children to explore, and develop their physical, spatial and creative skills.

This collection of buildings were open to the public as part of our 80th birthday celebrations in 2011. Our panel featured prominent architects and Borland colleagues Peter McIntyre and John Kenny, together with education and design specialists Mary Featherston and alumni Ben Cleveland. We hope this will become a regular opportunity in our calendar of events.

Blackhall Kalimna (Secondary School)

The architecture of the secondary school is anchored around two grand Victorian mansions – Blackhall and Kalimna. These are enhanced by a number of specialist facilities, including the Frances Derham Arts Centre, named after the legendary pioneer of art teaching who developed her approach while on staff at Preshil in the 1930s. The Centre is designed by the prominent Australian architect Gregory Burgess. Burgess received the RAIA gold medal in 2004, one of more than 40 professional and community awards received over his career. Burgess is particularly noted for his work with indigenous communities and participatory design approach, which is evident in his work at Preshil.

In 2012, the school proudly opened a library and learning hub, designed by the award winning firm O’Connor + Houle, lead by Architect Stephen O’Connor. A radically simple approach to materials and space create a building of many talents – encouraging quiet contemplation but also exuberance and celebration – in response to the needs of students.