Centre for Higher Education Studies

Fieldwork + Brand Architects

Driven by leading pedagogical research and innovation, the Centre for Higher Education Studies (CHES) is set among the dense urban fabric in Melbourne’s South Yarra on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri and Bunurong people of the Kulin Nation. CHES supports high-achieving Victorian government secondary school students with state-of-the-art specialist facilities, offering a pathway for students to transition from secondary to tertiary education. The design promotes natural materials, biophilic principles, and sustainability measures in a safe and welcoming environment.

The brief focused on highly specialised spaces mixed with flexible and social spaces to achieve best practice. Four agile learning neighbourhoods are located on levels one and two, with informal break-out spaces leading to general and specialised learning settings, such as tertiary standard laboratories and fabrications workshops.

Critical in unlocking the potential of the site, the central atrium draws natural light into the narrow site, ensuring each learning space has equitable amenity. Upon entry, movement is directed through a large lobby space, into a foyer, reception and café space. Landscaped with ferns and epiphytes, this vertical volume is lined with sustainably harvested Victorian ash timber and glazed windows. The space is covered by an ETFE inflatable roof, requiring less structural support than traditional glazed roofs and enhancing light control and thermal insulation.

Designed in accordance with the Victorian Government School Building Quality Standards Handbook, the building utilises passive solar design strategies, on-site generation with 10kW photovoltaic system, night purging of central atrium and water-efficient landscaping.


Furniture: VE Furniture, Hay, Cult, Own World, Jardan, BFX Furniture. Lighting: InLite. Finishes: Gibbon Group, Hurfurds, Anston’s Architectural Products, Fairview, Knauf Plasterboard, Autex Acoustics, Dulux, British Paints, Brightonlite. Fittings & Fixtures: Corian, CASF Australia, GWA Group, Britex.


Photography: Tom Ross