Tuesday, September 26, 2023
HomeAround The WorldIvanhoe’s iconic Grammar School’s Sports & Aquatic Centre

Ivanhoe’s iconic Grammar School’s Sports & Aquatic Centre

Sports centres are designed to cater  a wide range of sports, fitness, and recreational activities. The specific features and facilities can vary depending on the size, purpose, and budget of the centre, as well as the needs and preferences of the community it serves. Designing sports facilities requires a multidisciplinary approach, involving architects, engineers, interior designers, and sports facility experts to create a facility that meets the functional, aesthetic, and operational needs of athletes and spectators. The design of sports centres continues to evolve with new trends and innovations to meet the changing needs and expectations of users. In this regard, the world-class Ivanhoe Grammar Sports & Aquatic Centre sets a benchmark for sports centre design.

Located on a steeply sloping site along Ivanhoe’s iconic Boulevard, Ivanhoe Grammar School’s Sports & Aquatic Centre is a world-class sporting & education facility. Constructed by Building Engineering and designed by architects Mclldowie Partners this eco-friendly, sustainable complex incorporates high-performance glass to minimise energy consumption and solar panels on the roof that add 95kw to the already 800kw generated by the school, making Ivanhoe Grammar School one of the leading schools in Australia for solar power use. The Sports & Aquatic Centre is built over six levels within a structure that sits below ground.

The design of Invanhoe sports and aquatic centre

A look back;

The project commenced following the approval of the school’s development plan in 2016, which had taken seven years to finalise. This development plan envisaged a Sports & Aquatic facility with two courts and a refurbished existing 25m pool.

After extensive consultation with the school’s academic and sports staff, the brief was re-evaluated early in the project to future-proof the facility and ensure PE, Sports & community programs could occur simultaneously. The revised brief was to provide four multipurpose basketball/netball courts, a 50m pool, change facilities, a weights room, aerobics and yoga studios, classrooms, staff offices and a kiosk, which took the project brief far beyond that of the approved development plan.

To overcome this challenge, the design response was to drop the courts below ground level, stacking them on top of one another, with additional rooftop courts to activate the rooftop and open up views from within the campus across the Yarra River and the city beyond. This visually connects the building with the main school oval and maximises land value with active student learning and recreation spaces.

Design of Ivanhoe Grammar Sports & Aquatic Centre

The building is organised by the courts, stacked on top of one another, with a circulation spine and entry pavilion to one side connecting additional support functions. The pool then sits proudly at the southern edge of the site accessing the spectacular views across the Boulevard and the Yarra River, bringing the landscape deep within the pool and adjoining courts.

The 6-level Sports & Aquatic Centre sits up to 25m below natural ground level. This allows the building to read with an intimacy of scale and sensitivity to context. This belies the sheer size of the internal spaces and prioritises the building’s contribution to the landscape, the human & built scale of the campus and the broader neighbourhood.

There are significant thermal mass benefits to being partially underground, with stable below-ground temperatures drastically reducing the air conditioning load across the building. In addition, 95kW of solar panels to the pool roof, rainwater harvesting and multiple inclusive and wellbeing focussed design initiatives connect the building with its purpose in support of student health and wellbeing.

Importantly, the design approach maintained the existing development plan envelope to minimise planning risk. This was of significant value to the client from both a programme and cost perspective, particularly in light of ongoing cost escalation. At a budget of $50M across just over 10,000m2, this project has provided tremendous value for money even though it involved significant excavation and retention.

Built on the site of the old pool, the new Sports & Aquatic Centre includes:

  • 2 rooftop courts for netball and tennis
  • 50-metre, 8 lanes wide fully FINA accredited Olympic-sized hydro floor swimming pool
  • 4 basketball/netball/ courts – first of their kind built in Australia with NBA standard floors
  • 8 indoor volleyball courts
  • 16 badminton courts
  • Weights and fitness rooms
  • 2 multi-purpose rooms for table tennis
  • Classrooms
  • PE and Sport Department Offices
  • Large entrance foyer with a cafe

Multipurpose sports arenas of Invanhoe sports and aquatic centre

Principal Gerard Foley said that the Sports & Aquatic Centre is a hub for sport and physical education learning across the School, highlighting the importance of physical activity to an individual’s wellbeing. ‘State of the art facilities encourage students and staff to be active and undertake physical activity in a number of inviting spaces including the swimming pool, dance/aerobics studios, gymnasium and courts facilitating basketball, badminton, volleyball and netball,’ he said.

‘The Sports Centre has brought a new level of excitement to our subject area of Health & PE! We have been able to extend our students in the units of work they are covering in class. It has been an excellent learning space where we can easily move our classes from working in the classroom, straight to the basketball court or fitness centre where students are able to put key concepts learnt in our senior PE classes, into practical application. Health & PE staff and students are excited to see what the future holds for our programs,’ said Curriculum Leader – Health & PE Christina Parodi.


An inventive design & feat of engineering, the Sports & Aquatic Centre is a remarkable collaboration between client, builder, engineers, planner & architect to deliver an outstanding facility for student learning, health, wellbeing & sporting achievement.

References: e-architect.com, ivanhoe.com.au. architectureanddesign.com.au


Most Popular

Hot News