Key Dates

18 March - Launch Deadline
15 April - Standard Deadline
1 July - Final Deadline
8 July - Judging
15 July - Winners Announced
10 August - Awards Presentation

Image Credit : All images by Dave Kulesza



Project Overview

Eltham College, a school known for its adoption of new technology and student wellbeing, engaged ODO to design a new creative hub within the senior school wing. The college had a strong desire to foster creative thinking within the students, and required the right space and environment for this to be manifested.

Project Commissioner

Eltham College

Project Creator

ODO (One Design Office)


Jon Liow, Samson Tiew, Pei Wen Kwek, Kim Low

Project Brief

The brief for this project was to repurpose an underutilised portion of the school wing to create a new space that would encourage students to engage in design thinking and discourse, experiment with materials and technology, and to congregate and foster a creative community. The school understood the need for a creative environment to be inspiring and to provide spaces of flexibility and for a variety of activities.

Through research and collaboration with the school, ODO identified several areas of impact: a space to test, build, and get their hands dirty; a place to commune, congregate, and eat together; a place to focus, study, dream; and a space to host gatherings and events. These areas formulated the core, functional brief of the project.

Additionally, the school placed a strong emphasis on the need for robust materials and furniture within a school environment, and the need for good lighting and flexible furniture - as the exact needs of the space would continue to evolve as students occupied it.

Project Innovation/Need

The resulting design provides students with opportunity to engage in a range of educational experiences: from trialling recipes and engaging in food science within the culinary space, to running events and creative discourse sessions with the flexible amphitheatre pods, to finding quietness and space to study within the intimacy of the private booths, and to having the opportunity to 3D print, craft, build, and test prototypes and ideas in the open workshop.

A unique, custom-designed, three-pronged culinary bench is the hero of the kitchen, and allows students to gather to trial recipes, discuss food science, and for food studies to be conducted.

Our experience in hospitality design showed us that booths are some of the most sought-after seating experiences within cafes and restaurants. We brought this thinking into the school environment by integrating several study booths or "nooks" - which have been a hit with the students and staff.

The flexible tiered seating allows for an adaptable amphitheatre-style layout to be arranged for events and gatherings, and a state-of-the-art audio/visual system allows for presentations and discussions to take place.

Lastly, an open, flexible workspace with interchangeable tabletops, modular storage systems, and high-tech prototyping equipment allows students to dream, test, and build.

Design Challenge

Firstly, operating in an environment that many of us had not been a part of for many years meant that we had to make extra effort to understand the user's perspective. We engaged in a collaborative design process, ensuring that designs were workshopped with stakeholders and input was received and integrated where possible. We implemented project workflow processes which enabled us to streamline and consolidate communication and helped us to achieve design approval in a timely manner.

Secondly, materiality in a school environment posed a challenge. Through our experience in commercial/hospitality projects, we were able to utilise material and construction knowledge to integrate materials that were durable, aged well, and forgiving. We designed custom workshop tables with interchangeable tops to embrace the likelihood of future accidents and damage, and also documented details that would "over-satisfy" standard structural or functional requirements in order to ensure the environment was safe, robust, and had longevity.

The existing conditions of the school posed as a challenge, with existing services, low ceiling heights, and deep, dark floor plate. This required us to integrate innovative lighting strategies to provide ambient light that was conducive for study.

Lastly, the need for flexibility meant that we had to design and detail robust, agile, custom furniture that would allow for the space to be fully transformable. This required extensive research into suitable hardware and materials to ensure we provided a solution that satisfied multiple functional scenarios.


Specific attention was given to components of the project such as materiality (specifying robust materials or designing furniture with interchangeable tops in areas such as the workshop space) to ensure suitability to the activities and environment.

To mitigate existing services and provide adequate sound-proofing, we utilised an eco-friendly wood-fibre ceiling panel to create a softer, warmer finish above the student lounge. Linoleum, a highly sustainable flooring material was also used over majority of the floor plan to provide a durable and long-lasting surface.

Due to the limited natural light, we made conscious design decisions to push as many communal activities closer to the glazing line, and push intimate areas (such as the study nooks, storage rooms, and photograph booths) to the darker side of the floor plate. This ensured that we utilised natural light as much as possible, while letting the non-crucial areas adapt to lower light levels. We also implemented a lighting strategy that utilised energy efficient LED light discs to increase the overall ambient light, whilst not spot-lighting areas they were not required.

This award celebrates innovative and creative building interiors with consideration given to space creation and planning, furnishings, finishes and aesthetic presentation. Consideration also given to space allocation, traffic flow, building services, lighting, fixtures, flooring, colours, furnishings and surface finishes.
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