Highgate Primary School

Engaging the built environment to extend learning beyond the classroom

Story and footage courtesy of Channel 7 Perth and Home in WA.


First opened in 1895, Highgate Primary School stands as one of Perth’s oldest schools. Fast forward to 2018 and you’ll find traditional schooling concepts transcended by a striking contemporary streetscape and school redevelopment. Boasting creativity and innovation beyond expectation, the school’s revitalisation invites even the most timid of students into what is now a vibrant and exciting space of learning and engagement. 

Led by Adrian Iredale of iredale pedersen hook architects, the concept and design phase of the redevelopment demanded intimate conversations and astute understanding across a broad stakeholder base. “We had to do our homework on this one” says Adrian.  

The creative licence given to the architectural design was influenced by diverse demands. Of note were the conditions stipulated by the Heritage Council of Western Australia and the Department of Education’s design specifications, which required the architecture to fit in with the heritage feel of the school surrounds. Special consideration also had to be given to the group’s most influential audience: the 650 Highgate Primary School students set to be impacted by the quality of design and attention to even the smallest of detail.

Not denying Highgate’s heritage significance, iredale pedersen hook architects set out to add value to the environment with a unique blend of old and new. The manipulation of light, colour and pattern was also woven throughout the design to extend learning experiences beyond the classroom. Designed specifically to satisfy both traditional and modern architecture needs, Midland Brick’s Kalbarri, Heritage Red and Burnished Red bricks were the obvious choice. The finished result is a three dimensional perspective, afforded by the complexity of the blended bricks that enhance the intrigue and charm of the school’s presence. 

A standout feature of the design, however, is the three Midland reds, which were blended artfully by master bricklayers. The imagination is encouraged by the creative brickwork and the result allows every child, parent, educator and visitor to indulge in their own interpretation of the design.

Adrian concedes that the project’s success is the result of thorough community, historical and government engagement. “It was the support of all involved in the project that enabled the delivery of an innovative, creative, yet historically respectful redevelopment”.