Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership, East Melbourne

Repurposing a distinctive heritage building, DesignInc has delivered a state-of-art training facility for Victoria’s leading educators. The fit-out reflects the prestigious professional development programs offered by the Academy and the importance of the teaching profession.

The new Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership sits within a rich heritage context. A key design principle was to celebrate and connect the heritage and cultural story of the building. The conceptual design framework imagines a creative journey linking all levels and spaces of the three-level building, symbolising interconnection between past, present, and future. The idea is united by a new linking stair inserted in an existing heritage lightwell that expresses the creative journey. As a connector of time and space, the link embodies light, creativity, nature, memories, and hope.


  • 2023 Finalist, Architectural Design, Victorian Premier’s Design Awards
  • 2023 Commendation, Innovative Education Initiative, Learning Environments Victoria/Tasmania
  • 2023 Commendation, Modernisation – Large, Learning Environments Australasia
  • 2022 Winner, Ministers Award, Victorian School Design Awards
  • 2022 Finalist, Best School Project above $10M, Victorian School Design Awards
Wurundjeri Country
East Melbourne, Victoria
Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA)
Project Contact
Christon Batey-Smith, Jane Sayers and Cameron Smith
Dianna Snape
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DesignInc related the building’s three levels to a tree in a landscape, with the basement as the roots and earth, the centre as the trunk, and the top level likened to the canopy – outward-looking and light. That narrative is layered with biophilic elements that express nature in the building fabric.

Taking the idea further, DesignInc imagined the three levels as a metaphor for time. The basement with its bluestone walls is quite dark and atmospheric; it represents the past. It houses the library and is a quiet place for independent research, study, and investigation.

We all know good teachers are instinctive storytellers. We aimed to motivate these amazing educators and planned the interiors narrative as a learning journey that resonates and emboldens them.

Jane Sayers
Principal, DesignInc Melbourne

The centre layer represents the present. It’s the level where you enter the building and has a flexible welcome lounge that is a social meeting point. The top layer represents the future; it’s where most of the teaching happens. It has more embellishment, adaptable spaces, and transparency.

The innovative learning and teaching spaces in the Academy reflect the range of settings encountered in contemporary education, including blended face-to-face and digital learning models. Integrating adaptability and transparency is a core value of the Academy. We translated this with flexible spaces that support a range of learning modes from individual learning, small group collaboration, large group / lecture settings, to remote learning.

The $16.8M fitout creates a sense of occasion and prestige to encourage visitors to be proud of the teaching profession.

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Jesse Newstadt

Project Architect, Melbourne

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Isabella Peppard Clark

Architect, Melbourne