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Varsity College Post Occupancy Evaluation

Part 1 Dissertation 2002
Geoffrey Cordingley
Hayley Crofts
Tim Eady
Lisa Mcgilvray
Troy Owen
Robert Shipley
Alex Stavridis
John Wood
Queensland University of Technology Brisbane Australia
This research document is a Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) of Varsity College, Stage 2B years four to six, a public school that is part of an urban community development at Varsity Lakes in south-east Queensland, Australia. The primary purpose for this research was to evaluate how the Varsity College environment was functioning in relation to the design brief.

The overall aim of the school was to provide a healthy learning environment that offers flexibility, integrates technology and encourages social interaction. The research POE team consulted key stakeholders that included the project managers, state education authorities, school representatives and the architects. Through conducting the evaluation, the POE team aimed to make informed recommendations on the improvement or modification of Varsity College's built environment to better meet user requirements, to improve the future designs of similar building types, and to improve or aid future research studies of this type. The research methodologies included interviews with stakeholders, teacher and student questionnaires, site investigations and observations, student photo surveys, student and teacher workshops, student dream drawings and wish poems. The core findings, derived from all methodologies, determined that the Varsity College environment offered a positive and supportive learning environment. This was reflected by a high degree of happiness in staff and students. The general positive impression of the school verified that the overall aim in the school's design brief was achieved. Additionally the core findings supported Education Queensland's strategy to reduce the shift of students from public to private education by providing a positive and successful image of a high-profile public school to the community. The research has concluded key findings specific to site, building, psychological and educational aspects.

These key findings are primarily positive, and the research team perceived that a right of reply, or a review of the findings by stakeholders, was not necessary. Recommendations derived from the findings are focused on the improved functional use of Varsity College, and aim to direct the future design of public schools. Recommendations for future research include an investigation into age and psychological perception of space, age appropriate research methodology and parental social interaction at primary school.

Geoffrey Cordingley
Hayley Crofts
Tim Eady
Lisa Mcgilvray
Troy Owen
Robert Shipley
Alex Stavridis
John Wood


The research units (subjects) within the architecture course at QUT are offered in the final year (5th year) of study. By this stage of their education students have often developed their own interests, frequently borne of their experience in the work environment which forms part of the cooperative education strategy employed to further architectural education at Queensland University of Technology.

Given the range of student interests and abilities, group projects have been introduced into the mix of research offerings from which students may select; this allows students to choose projects that would be impossible to complete alone within the timeframe allocated for the research units. This Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) module was one such offering. For students with substantial work experience the opportunity to conduct, in a rigorous and thorough manner, an analysis of the product of the design process was interesting as it was revealing.

Through their meetings with students and staff at Varsity College and by theorising, structuring, analysing and reporting the results of this process these students have demonstrated the kinds of research skills that will be of significant value to them in the world of architectural practice. The work represented by this submission has been presented (see attached CD) to ‘clients’ and to teaching staff at QUT with impressive feedback. The significant achievement represented by this submission is its development of professional skills and values in soon-to-be graduate architecture students.

2002
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