The Academy Opens Geelong Centre – A Learning Centre for Regional Educators

The Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership (the Academy) officially opened its first regional centre in Geelong in March 2023.

An outdoor area with trees, brick pavement and a small fountain, few people are chatting and working in the seating area.

This new Geelong location offers a comprehensive program in a range of flexible and dynamic spaces including learning studios, remote learning labs, a welcome lounge, and break-out zones. If needed, the facility can adapt to accommodate up to 300 people for region-wide events. 

A sustainable choice, this site is in a repurposed 1970s Education Department building that had been vacant for many years. The two-level shopfront was rundown; however we saw the potential in the building’s ‘good bones’. 

Reinvented as a healthy building, our design maximises natural daylight, indoor air quality, outdoor connection, a natural palette and biophilic elements. 

To make the most of the U-shaped building which faces north, we crafted a design response that celebrates the building’s excellent access to daylight (maximising passive energy benefits) and superb views to Corio Bay.

Cameron Smith
Senior Associate, DesignInc Melbourne

A neglected courtyard space was reimaged as an opportunity and redeveloped as a sunny, sheltered outdoor space. A pair of existing native trees were preserved, while new outdoor furniture and decking mean the courtyard is an integrated, usable space for outdoor teaching, relaxation, and informal gatherings. A new fountain introduces soft natural sounds and biophilic patterns.

To establish a new street identity with a façade more suited to a professional training destination, the old 70s shop front was substantially revised. We selected redbrick for the façade to link the project to Geelong’s iconic redbrick woolstore buildings. The new masonry and glazing work in concert with updated fenestration to improve thermal performance and refresh the façade appearance.

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DesignInc has designed a further six regional Academies that will open in 2023

Christon Batey-Smith
Director, DesignInc Melbourne

Internally, the Academy’s Geelong centre adapts the conceptual framework established for the East Melbourne Academy, expressing learning journey themes and using round shapes. Bold circles on the façade and internal porthole windows reference talking circles, gathering and sharing of knowledge.