Women lead Tech School design

​​​Female designers have created Banyule Nillumbik Tech School's unique and innovative building design with girls in STEM at the forefront.

Tech School architect Melika Grigg-Baycan

Project and Design Architect Melika Grigg-Baycan of Tectura Architects says her biggest design inspiration was to ensure inclusivity for all students, regardless of ability, age or gender.

'What really interested me was the opportunity to design a building that excited the curiosity of students,' Melika says.

Melika says what sets the Tech School apart is how the architecture and interior design directly responds to the pedagogy, curriculum and learning module planned for the school.

Glass wall at Banyule Nillumbik Tech School
'I wanted to create a space where tools and equipment were easily accessible to students, without them having to ask permission.'

'Walls between learning spaces are transparent so students can choose to participate. The aim is for the student's imagination and freedom to aid the learning process.'

​The design aims to encourage and include young women into STEM pathways through a warm and playful palette, an alternative to the trend of 'Tron' like spaces, which typically read as 'masculine' and are commonly used to depict high tech and robotic spaces.

'This was fundamental, as I am a female architect. I wanted to excite curiosity and learning in young women.'

Banyule Nillumbik Tech School's Executive Director Marc Blanks says the space is modelled on industry design centres and was meticulously planned to enhance learning.

'Our research found that most organisations that offer STEM subjects are designed with boys in mind.   

'We examined the research around gender bias and learning environments and designed the Tech School's interior palette in a way that appeals to both genders – it's quite bold thinking.'

Spaces that help students Learn

Banyule Nillumbik Tess
Banyule Nillumbik Tech School's STEM communicator Tess McLaren​

STEM communicator Tess McLaren has a background in both architectural design and science. Her unique set of skills has been an asset to Tech Schools - she provided consultation on the design process and programs at Banyule Nillumbik Tech School.

Tess says Banyule Nillumbik Tech School does not look like a classroom or a school, but like the real spaces that students could work at in the future.

'Students get the opportunity to experience learning spaces that more closely reflect the innovative work environments found in industry and emerging start-ups,' Tess says.

Banyule Nillumbik masterclass room
Banyule Nillumbik's "masterclass" room

'We have selected designs that inspire creativity and have a design studio, museum or gallery feel. Treating students like designers and providing them unique and varied spaces to work in will undoubtedly enhance their ability to tackle STEM issues with creative problem solving strategies.'

Tess says she has many favourite spaces in the Tech School, which includes collaborative work spaces, a modular lounge that lets students customise the space, and a gallery.

'I am particularly excited about the gallery space and the potential to design exciting, inspiring installations that challenge students' ideas about STEM and design.'

Her other favourite part is the technology and equipment. The building has projection technology inside and outside. '[It enables] students to learn new software and technical skills to create their own 'White Night' style projection artworks,' Tess says.

'As a creative person, being able to create, design and experiment with some of the latest technology, including things I haven't had access to in the past like the computer numerical control (CNC) router, is extremely exciting.

'Like every adult who visits us at the Tech School now, I also wish I was able to attend a Tech School when I was younger!'

Melika says it was a joy to collaborate with the Tech School team on such an important and innovative project.

Tech Schools in the Education State

Victoria's 10 Tech Schools are centres of STEM excellence that engage students from neighbouring schools in industry-linked programs and a high-tech learning environment, to complement their work in the classroom.

They work as a link between schools and​ industry and deliver innovative programs that challenge students to solve real-world problems.

Tech School programs help students develop the skills and knowledge they need to compete in the future global job market.