Commended: Inspiring Educators and Leaders

DesignInc is proud to have received a Commendation at the 2023 LEAD Awards for our project Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership, East Melbourne.

Jane Sayers, DesignInc Principal and design architect for the Academy, attended the 2023 Learning Environments Australasia conference held in Christchurch, NZ. We asked Jane to share some highlights of her visit to NZ and the conference.

“The uniqueness of the setting in Christchurch was striking,” said Jane. “It was impressive to witness the rebuilding of Christchurch, which is still in progress since the tragic earthquakes of 2011. In central Christchurch, renewal and reconstruction are evident at many sites. Speaking with locals, it was inspiring that while they acknowledged the devastation of this event, a positive sense of revitalisation and evolution is emerging through the restoration of their city. 

Reflecting on the conference, Jane said, “LEA conferences are a fantastic opportunity to visit interesting education projects with colleagues from other practices, prompting lots of informal discussions as we share our impressions, ideas and influences on the spot. We learn from each other, sharing collective insights and experiences as education designers. On these visits, as we chat, we relax our boundaries and adopt a collegiate approach, which benefits all of us working on education projects”.

One of the things that really impressed Jane was how NZ has embraced Indigenous culture. “As a nation, NZ is light years ahead of Australia in terms of honouring, respecting, and integrating Māori culture and language. Here in Australia, we are just beginning our journey toward understanding, valuing, and integrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait cultures. It’s inspiring to see the NZ example. It shows us how we will progress as we learn more about Indigenous cultures and design for Country. Witnessing the possibilities and how much can be achieved is exciting.”

The Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership aims to establish a consistently high standard of professional learning for the education sector, raise the profile of the teaching profession and improve student outcomes. The design solution provides the opportunity for educators to experience contemporary learning environments as a learner. Playful spatial arrangements have been implemented that “educate the educator” on how to manipulate space for different learning modes.

The Academy project provides a powerful platform to not only develop inspiring educators and leaders but also develop their spatial literacy skills to help maximise the affordances of the built environment to best support learners and student engagement.

LEAD 2023, Jury citation