Foxwell State Secondary College

After spending only 33 weeks building the new $65 million state of the art education facility, FKG handed over the new Foxwell State Secondary College at the start of 2020 and the school welcomed their slightly nervous but excited foundation year students on January 28th.

Foxwell State Secondary School is located on Foxwell Road in Coomera - a fast-growing Gold Coast suburb. The first stage of the project includes more than 30 teaching spaces in a three story general learning area, an executive services and staff center, library, canteen, covered lunch area, uniform/ book store, kinesiology labs, and a multipurpose hall with stage and indoor courts - lovingly referred to by the architecture team as 'the hangar' due to its size and scale. This stage also includes outdoor play areas, external sport courts, a flexible use lecture theatre with retractable seating, and a number of ancillary buildings. Construction of the 110m wide senior oval is also well underway.

The original project timeline allowed for an 18-month construction period but this needed to be accelerated and completed in 8 months in order to be ready for the start of school in 2020. The shortened timeline had a direct impact on the design decisions and construction methods chosen early on in the project, leading to the preference to use tilt up concrete panels in lieu of concrete blockwork where possible and the use of pre-finished cladding to reduce installation time and maintenance. In order to complete the project on time three different construction teams were required on site for the entire length of the project with each team working on a separate building. During the peak of the project there were up to 320 contractors on site. Even though time was limited, the project went though numerous design iterations to ensure that the final design offered students and teachers an ideal learning environment.

The initial design was completed by Thelander architecture with Ridgemill as project manager. Design developments and changes were made by Open Architecture Studio working for the successful contractor FKG and included re-orienting buildings on site, adjusting site levels, redesigning facades, adding new rooms such as the kinesiology centre, and reconfiguring the library, multi-purpose hall, and several teaching spaces. The multipurpose hall was completely redesigned and re-positioned on the central arrival axis - placing emphasis on the school's focus to be a “sports excellence center”. By placing the sports center along the main axis and making use of the site's severe slope, students and visitors gain views of sporting events and the stage upon entering the main building. The entry roof and awning were redesigned to create interest though complex geometric shapes and accent colors mirroring the geometry of the custom designed screens along the building facades and collaboration spaces.

Their eye for detail and their overall design is something else. I have not heard one person not be blown away once they see the overall school, but it is when they look at each and every detail they realise some extraordinary architects have been behind this. Once again their willingness to be responsive and respectful to our ideas was greatly appreciated." - Kym Amor, Foundation principal.

As part of the redesign, the flow of the parking area was optimized and the sports oval was relocated to the adjacent site. The roof structure linking the administrative building to the sports hall was also redesigned to reflect geometry used in the rest of the project and serves as a central node. Collaboration areas outside of classrooms were redesigned with custom seats and screens allowing for multi-use external teaching and spill out spaces.

The building is intended to spark interest among students in architecture and the construction industry; and it is our hope that it will be the starting point for many conversations among staff and students regarding design and the built environment. The design aims to achieve this through the expression of materials and construction methods. Being careful not to compromise aesthetics of the end design, materials and fixings were exposed where possible, thereby allowing inquisitive minds to see how different elements fit together and the role of materiality in architecture. Colour was introduced though the introduction of custom perforated screens and accent paint colours throughout the project.

Very proud of our achievements, congrats and thank you to Open Architecture Studio for all your hard work, attention to detail and for always tackling challenges head on and with a positive outlook." - Morgan Hook, Design Manager FKG

Project Information

Area: Total 19,985 m² (including unenclosed functional covered areas)

Project Value: $64 million

Construction time: 9 months

Open Architecture Studio Team

  • Michael Bailey

  • Chapman Leijenaar

  • Heinrich Olckers

  • Daia De Brito

  • Suzy Syme

  • Marissa Wathern

  • Liliana Amaro

  • JP Palmer

  • Will Gray

  • Manasa Chegu

  • Yuri Valle

Contractor: FKG Group

Structural Engineer: Northrop Consulting Engineers

Certifier: Buildit group

Mechanical Engineer: Davies Climate control

Hydraulic Engineer: Platinum Hydraulic Design

Electrical Engineer: BSI Projects

Landscape Architect: JFP Urban Consultants

Civil engineer: vT Consulting Engineers