Ultimo Public School

Ultimo Public School presents a new educational model for an inner-Sydney primary school. The design dissolves the classroom/playground divide with flexible learning spaces that expand into playgrounds, verandahs and walkways.

In this urban setting, landscape is key, with gardens and water features to enhance sensory experiences and promote activity. Building mass and terracing use the steep site to control noise and access from a busy street abutment. Terraces carved into the site from its days as a quarry create three distinct playground levels for: kindergarten, years 1 and 2, and years 3 to 6, with visual surveillance between the three.

Winning an international design competition in December 2016, the scheme expands student capacity from 285 to 800, and adds community childcare and library facilities. 


    NSW Department of Education


    Ultimo, NSW


    12,300 m² + 6,000 m² external learning areas


    $30 million

    Miriam Enoch Matthew Todd Richard Does

    DesignInc in association with Lacoste + Stevenson and BMC2 (France)


    Images by Doug & Wolf


Environmentally sustainable features include reused photovoltaic cells and a displacement ventilation system, where outside air is supplied below the library floor level and is relieved at high level for chimney-effect ventilation through the three-storey library and general learning spaces.

Nurture with nature 

  • Sensory landscaping: rainforest, harvest and market garden
  • Assembly hall for 800 students overlooks Wentworth Park
  • Learning areas with natural light and cross-ventilation
  • Community access to select spaces and facilities
  • Three-storey library sited to buffer neighbourhood noise

A fresh, creative and playful architectural expression. This scheme raises amenity standards for early learning centres in Australia.

Design excellence competition jury