123 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy Vic. 3065, Australia
P 61 (0)3 9417 0995
E&W office(at)archarch.com.au

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Yarra Ranges Special Development School, floor plan

Yarra Ranges SDS

Students learn and grow when their environment offers comfort, engagement and delight. They thrive when empowered to shift, at will, between periods of energised activity and studious concentration. They have a need for connection and belonging; to gather with their fellow students and, at times, to retreat. These are the ingredients of any happy school.

Aa worked closely with the specialist teachers at Yarra Ranges SDS to develop an architecture that attends to the psychological and physical needs of students with learning difficulties and sensory sensitivities. The design engages principles of light, colour and spatial sequencing to create an intuitive and welcoming campus where students play and learn in comfort and safety.

Location  Mount Evelyn
Completed  2024
Budget  $21m
Collaborators  ThomsonAdsett and On-Paper
Construction  BowdenCorp
Landscape  SBLA Studio
Photography  Tom Ross
Details  See floorplan

Right from the beginning Aa invested time and energy in our project with a genuine interest in finding out who we are. They are an absolute pleasure to work with. The result is that our new spaces are outstanding: supporting our whole school approach to communication, teaching and learning. Our school is well on track to becoming a showcase for special education in Victoria, indeed inclusive educational design for all.

Janet Taylor, School Principal


Aa has delivered a new middle school and specialist learning spaces, with a new senior school under construction. Our team developed a tailored consultation process with Yarra Ranges SDS and its community to ensure the specialist pedagogical needs of both students and staff were fully explored.

The school has been reimagined with a generous campus heart. Covered walkways around the perimeter provide protected paths of travel and outdoor play on rainy days. Inside and out, students feel connected to nature with readily accessible zones for exploration, relaxation and dignified retreat.

Long, noisy, disconnected corridors are often places of high sensory overload and disorientation. At Yarra Ranges SDS, these have been replaced with a series of small, quiet lobbies, with respite lounges and garden views immediately visible upon entry. Students feel located, calmed and protected in the knowledge that landscape and respite is near at hand. Indeed, the entry to every classroom provides immediate views to the landscape beyond.

New facilities include a new campus heart, five classrooms, a library, TV production studio, digital media studio, food technology facility, dining room, music room, fitness centre, performance space, art room, vocational learning spaces, OSHC facility, staff rooms, family consultation rooms, change-in-place amenities, and multiple outdoor learning environments.