MBH Main

Montrose Bay High

Courtyard and classrooms with access for all


Department of Education


Montrose, Tasmania

Total cost:



February 2006

Total school refurbishment

BYA simultaneously oversaw building works on the library, performing arts centre, green room, science/language/art, and new access project. The realisation of a long term master planning exercise was brought to head by the Building Education Revolution (BER) and economic stimulus project. The final construction documents and tendering were completed within a nine week period.

The school had existing four main buildings of two and three storeys with a further new building being created. The in between spaces, Courtyards CY2, CY3 & CY4 were also used along with a four level glass and steel elevator (the first of its kind in Australia) to make the school fully access compliant with the BCA 2011.

Traditionally enclosed classrooms and buildings were linked with a transverse circulation axis, and classroom spaces were opened to become flexible learning spaces. A high degree of transparency was also overlaid to spaces allowing for natural observation and monitoring of activities throughout the school.

Prior to final selection and design, services were life cycle costed and linked with a centralised BMS system to provide the school with the ability to effectively manage
its environment and costs.

Facilities within the school were all refurbished forming a new Department of Education concept, working within the bounds of the BCA. Toilet partition systems were removed and in most cases water closets were combined with basins affording students style, privacy and respect.

Access for all

The access project cost 1.8M and aimed to improve accessibility throughout the school, which is built over three levels. This project involved a new bus pick-up and drop off area, visitor parking, landscaping, lift, signage and courtyards. 

An innovative and fully access compliant lift with doors on three sides solved a tricky access problem. The lift moves over four levels and is the first of its kind in Australia.

The glass and steel construction allows school staff to monitor the lift, it doesn’t obscure views, and it allows students to see the inner workings of the lift. The lift gives students with disabilities and their carers access to the whole school.

A existing courtyard was revived to become a sunny and sheltered teaching space. Tiered over five levels it cleverly links the library, science, art and under to the Courtyard 3 and Performing Arts.

Specified is a palette of recycled and reclaimed timbers, coloured concrete, glass and steel. Transformed into a welcoming and sensual space, there for all to enjoy
on their way to classes.

  • Fully compliant accessible lift over four levels, the first of its kind in Australia
  • The new courtyard provides an inspiring link space for all students


MBHS Library building is named ERIC (Equipment, Resource & Information Centre).  This building required the removal of an existing toilet block and multimedia lab. It was made as transparent as possible as it links Courtyard 2 & 3. The roof pitched towards kunanyi / Mount Wellington helps to connect and place the school. It also bathes the students in natural light and separates it from existing buildings, and affords natural ventilation.

ERIC is heated with under slab and wall mounted gas hydronic heating systems. This system is middle of the road in terms of capital cost but becomes king with great ongoing lifecycle and maintenance costs.

The joinery and external timber claddings are all from reclaimed or recycled materials. This timber is normally wasted in forest burning or building demolition.

ERIC sits on the axis of courtyards and the new school circulation spines. This effectively breaks down the confines of earlier enclosed and separated buildings, leaping MBHS forward into the 21st Century.

Photos: Jonathan Wherrett

MBH Library

MBH WalkwayMBH LiftMBH Admin