In the 1950s and 60s, the NSW state government had to meet a growing demand for higher education as a result of the post war baby boom and increased immigration to Australia. This increased population put pressure on the public education system, particularly secondary education, as did the introduction of the Wyndham Scheme in 1962.
The scheme was ‘based on the premise that secondary education was for all adolescents … [formalising] the gradual shift from a hierarchical system of secondary schools where students were streamed on the basis of sex, intelligence and performance to a system of comprehensive, co-educational high schools’ (Sydney and the Bush, p. 232).
The Wyndham Scheme saw changes to the curriculum which had a more student-centred approach and the introduction of the School Certificate and Higher School Certificate (HSC). Students were obliged to take an additional year of secondary education to complete their HSC.
The NSW Government Architect’s Branch met this demand by innovating new designs for high schools which could be built quickly and cheaply. These included the so-called doughnut schools, designed by Michael Dysart, which were an open square with a central landscaped courtyard. The doughnuts were then linked together by away of covered walkways. Some of the first doughnut schools were built at Turramurra, Ryde and Pendle Hill.
Another innovation was the binishell, built as libraries and gymnasia at high schools throughout Sydney and NSW throughout the 1970s. They were designed was by Italian architect, Dante Bini, who was commissioned by the Government Architect’s Branch to bring his design to NSW schools. Most of the binishells were built in the northern suburbs of Sydney – there were 14 were built in total, with ten of them remaining.
Find out more about the innovative work of the NSW Government Architect’s Branch in the period 1958-1973 in this master thesis by architect Russell Jack: The work of the N.S.W. Government Architect’s Branch, 1958-1973.