Adelaide High School - Charles Todd Building

Adelaide High School - Charles Todd Building

JPE Design Studio
Adelaide SA 5000, Australia | View Map
Project Year
Secondary Schools
Sam Noonan

Adelaide High School - Charles Todd Building

JPE Design Studio as Architects

Context, community and technology were key drivers in the redevelopment of the Charles Todd Building for the State Heritage listed Adelaide High School. JPE Design Studio challenged the traditional school style to develop a connected and inspiring community model with strong internal and external linkages, encouraging free thought and breathing life into the entire school. Spaces have been designed to promote flexibility, a variety of social and learning opportunities, and technology interfaces that respond to the school’s vision for innovative and future-focused learning.


The Charles Todd Building is a contemporary response to the art deco style of the school. It offers a modern interpretation of the long horizontal windows and sunshades that characterise the State Heritage listed original building complex. A custom polished pre-cast concrete facade was developed to highlight the horizontal bands and original heritage brick fabric of the school.


The program includes teaching spaces, science labs, a study hub inclusive of flexible and clustered independent learning spaces and a resource hub, a drama studio, and a rooftop social and gathering space for the Year 12s, named Cloud 12 by the students themselves. Unique qualities of the school have been integrated into the interior design including the moto of the school ‘not only for school but for life’ being expressed and rebated into the internal pre-cast wall in morse code. The school colours of black and white inform the base palette of materials with timber continuing its school tradition to provide warmth and texture. Detail and craftsmanship reflect the qualities of the existing buildings but with today’s materials and technology.


The landscape architecture team led the engagement and collaboration with Adelaide City Council to develop a sensitive connection between the landscape, Park Lands and West Terrace. The design of the primary student plaza interprets the rich history of the land’s former use as Adelaide’s first meteorological research station, following an archaeological dig which unveiled the remnants of the site’s original building, including slabs of local granite used to stabilise the research facility’s equipment. All weather shade structures in ‘cloud’ shapes provide a modern take on the circular form represented in Adelaide High School’s existing landscapes.


A State Heritage and iconic project, the team worked very closely and collaboratively with the Department for Education, the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, Adelaide High School and the Managing Contactor to sensitively resolve the project brief and its staged delivery. The multi-disciplinary approach to the architecture, interior and landscape design, led by JPE Design Studio, pursued a seamless response to the school’s functional needs and address the social engagement and community aspects which are central to the school’s philosophy.


Rapid changes in pedagogical practices, learning technologies, environmental awareness and social expectations are having a profound impact on the design of schools. The Charles Todd Building responds to this and provides spaces that can adapt over time and respond to advancments in technology and future learning.

Project Credits
Structural and Civil Engineering
Disability Access Consultant
Electrical, Mechanical, Hydraulics & Fire Engineer
Acoustic Engineer
Product Spec Sheet

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