Carlton Primary School Renewal: by WEBB+

The Architects for Peace pro bono team is committed to supporting and promoting built environment professionals working for the good of the community. We sincerely believe that good design is a right rather than the privilege of an elite few. The pro bono service was set up with the aim of providing a network for those many of you out there - architects, engineers, designers - either having already provided your services free of charge to a deserving cause or seeking a way to do so. The following project - a facelift for a disadvantaged primary school - is just such an example. Recently undertaken by WEBB+ (formerly NHWEBB) on a pro bono basis, it came about independently of the arch-peace pro bono service. We are delighted to welcome WEBB+ as a business member of Architects for Peace.

The story of Carlton Primary.....

In line with our social responsibility commitment, WEBB+ (formerly known as NHWEBB) approached Carlton Primary School with the intention to initiate a community exchange program. WEBB+ hoped that the school, one of Melbourne’s demographically most disadvantaged, would be able to utilise our skills in a way that would enhance School Life in some way.

We met with the Principal of Carlton Primary School, Julie Large, and the Environment Teacher, Chris Burgess, and learned that the school, initially designed to accommodate 700 students, was originally developed from remnants of the neighbouring Housing Estate.

Vesna Rak-Dusanovic of Webb + writes:

The school now has a population of only approximately 90 students, 100% of whom live in the neighbouring Housing Estate, and a vast majority (95%) being from a non-English speaking background. Many are refugees from African nations such as Somalia.

Julie felt that one of the major issues contributing to low enrolment was the common perception that the school was a part of the Housing Estate. There was a strong desire to visually separate the school from the Housing Estate by altering the appearance of the building so that it could be clearly identified as a school.

As a result of early discussions, design options were prepared by WEBB+. The most affordable option, involving painting the facade, removing metal screens from the windows and screening rubbish bin enclosures, was implemented by the school. Further improvements (potential Stage 2 works) could be achieved through strategic introduction of landscaping to “soften” large concreted areas and structures (for example, locating planter boxes in between concrete columns on the ground floor), provision of opaque natural material screening to the existing transparent wire fence around the site perimeter, facing the neighbouring housing estate, and incorporation of decorative graphic panels (scaled photographs of school activities) to be applied to the face of the building to display the rich “internal life and activities” of the school to the “outside world”.

The project has been a great experience for the WEBB+ team. The enthusiasm of students and staff was inspirational, and the results we achieved together gave us great pleasure and a real sense of achievement and contribution to the community.

The School has already received very positive feedback about their “new look”. We are hopeful that these and further improvements will raise the School’s image in the community and result in higher enrolments in the future.

Testimonial from Julie Large – Principal of Carlton Primary School:

"Working with Webb+ has been a really positive experience for the school. It enabled us to think differently about our school building and grounds and to employ the expertise of WEBB+ staff to discuss our particular challenges and needs. The changes that have been made to the school building and surrounds have received positive comments from all sections of the school community as well as members of the general public."

Download more information and images here

For more information about the school:
And about WEBB+: - Intro


Kathy Hoar – Office Manager
Vesna Rak-Dusanovic - Project Leader
Tim Webb – Graphic Design

This project was not faciliated by the arch peace pro bono service but represents the experience of one of our members. Do you have a pro bono experience to share with us? We'd love to hear from you! Please direct enquiries to