Goldfields Studio

Bachelor of Architectural Design
Semester 2, 2020

Studio leader(s)

  • Thom McKenzie
    Catalina Edey
    Winwood Mckenzie

Studio Brief

The civic spaces of regional towns are essential to the cohesion of their communities. Stone upon stone, Victorian public buildings and civic spaces are lasting symbols of colonisation and the wealth created from resource extraction during the Victorian Gold Rush. The changes in the cultural, social, economic, and industrial aspects of regional Victoria present challenges and opportunities to reframe the diversity, values, and activities of regional communities within the built environment.

The Old Kyneton Primary School was constructed in 1856 in the center of Kyneton. Since 2018, the site has been unoccupied; a large disused area with bluestone heritage buildings surrounded by passionate community interest. The studio will explore the relationship of the former school site to the community and the indigenous, colonial, and future cultural heritage of the region.

Civic buildings have the potential to express the values of the communities that they are constructed for. Exploring new uses and adaptive re-use of the existing school buildings and surrounding spaces is an opportunity to recognise the value of architecture to an understanding of the past, the memories of former uses, inhabitants, and cultural identities, and to create space for new communities to contribute to the civic and cultural life of the area


The studio will include a site visit to study the existing conditions and relationship between the site and its surroundings. Kyneton is located 85km north of Melbourne and easily accessible by train and car. Approximately 1hr 20mins on the Bendigo Line train.

If site visits are not permitted or students are unable to attend the site visit they will be provided with sufficient information to understand the context and site constraints. Thom is based in Kyneton and will provide additional information if required.

Design methodologies

The studio will start with a collaborative analysis and recording of the physical and cultural site conditions in relation to the broader urban and rural environment and networks of Kyneton, and, research the current views of the community about the future development of the site. Historical maps and drawings will be studied to understand the social and political influence on modes of representation. The analysis will be developed into a collaborative document that communicates these ideas to a broader audience; exploring methods of communication of urban and architectural ideas to a broader community. The contextual understanding of the site and conceptual framework for the proposals will be developed in parallel with the history/theory unit.

This document will be the basis for a masterplan that will be developed in groups. The masterplan will identify the core urban, cultural, and architectural ideas that will influence both the sustainable use of the site, the architectural proposal, and the role and impact the proposal will have on the community.

The ideas contained in the masterplan will be further distilled into an individual project of a new community facility. Providing a physical architectural proposal that will once again house a community and become part of the fabric of Kyneton. This project can be an adaptive re-use of the existing school building or a new structure.

Expected outcomes

Students will develop three complimentary projects throughout the semester that culminate in the design of a new community facility:

A. Collaborative Historical and contextual site analysis. Exploring ideas about representation and communication of tangible and intangible aspects of the site through a series of text and graphic based presentations and mapping exercises.

B. Group masterplan proposal for the site and analysis of current proposals and community input. Understanding what the community sentiment is and how the proposals fit within the broader context of Kyneton and regional Victoria.

C. Individual projects. Design of a single building or collection of buildings and spaces that provide community facilities to meet the needs of, and represent the values of, the community.