Collingwood Technical School
- Creative Victoria
Heritage buildings present challenges and opportunities. They hold memories and offer potential. The former Collingwood Technical School site, in inner city Melbourne, captures the essence of all these elements.
This is the beginnings of a story that will chart the social history of the site, the continuum of innovation in learning and skills development and the evolution of the buildings over time.
In 1871, the Collingwood School of Design and School of Art opened on the site. In 1912, it became home to the Collingwood Technical School, and later in 1970 was renamed Collingwood Technical College. Technical schools were ‘… a distinctly Victorian innovation in Australian education’ as they ‘…provided pre-vocational education to school-age children and night classes for working youth’.
In 1984, Keith Haring visited the site and created a mural with the assistance of students from the College. The mural has become a Collingwood landmark and underwent a restoration process in 2013.
The school closed in 1987 and TAFE acquired the school buildings and operated until 2005. Various alumni of the school and TAFE retain a strong sense of community and attachment to the site and some have worked there as tradesmen during ongoing developments.
In 2010 the State Government commenced plans to reuse the derelict site as an arts precinct. This plan has evolved into a vision to provide a home for small and medium arts organisations and creative industries that will be complementary to Circus Oz, the first new occupant. To transform the balance of the site into a creative hub, a new charitable social enterprise, Contemporary Arts Precincts Ltd (CAP), has been set up.
Continuing the trend of innovation at the site, this model is an Australian-first with the potential to create new cultural precincts and creative spaces across the state. The creation of CAP is inspired by successful international models, such as Artscape (Toronto), Acme Studios (London), and Artspace (US).
The Collingwood Technical School complex, later Collingwood TAFE at 35-63 Johnston Street, Collingwood is socially, historically and architecturally significant to the locality of Collingwood and the City of Yarra .
The Collingwood Technical School is significant:
- As a major educational complex in the Collingwood area and Melbourne, with many long associations for the community;
- For the highly significant Dudok-Modern architectural styling of its components, particularly the Johnston St arched facade (Percy Everett's Public Works Department design), the Wellington St block and engineering workshop of 1938,
- For the original well-preserved Collingwood Technical School of 1913 sited in Perry Street;
- For the inter-war and immediate post Second War wings that served as war-related training venues, also
- The Keith Haring mural
 Spaull, 'Education, Technical' in A Brown-May & S Swan [eds], The Encyclopedia of Melbourne, p231
 Collingwood Technical School listing on the Victorian Heritage Database