Adelaide will open its first vertical high school in 2019, joining a wave of similar inner-city developments in Sydney and Melbourne.
The $100 million state government project will be built on a site neighbouring the University of South Australia and the Botanical Gardens, on the northern fringe of the CBD.
The new school will rise up six levels across two buildings and will cater for 1250 students with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Construction is due to start in December.
"This new school has been designed to ensure it is well connected to the rich variety of community assets in the city's educational and cultural precinct," SA Education Minister Susan Close said.
The rapid growth of residential populations in and around city centres is bringing new schools closer to the CBD, while the high cost of land in these locations is driving developments upwards rather than outwards.
In western Sydney, another $100 million project, Parramatta's Arthur Phillip High School will be rebuilt into a 17-storey tower catering for 2000 students while in Melbourne, top private school Haileybury has already opened the doors to its 10-storey King Street campus opposite Flagstaff Gardens, redeveloped from an existing office building.
"We've monitored the changing demographics in Melbourne closely over the past six years. It became clear from the data there was a growing demand for this type of product," Haileybury principal Derek Scott told The Australian Financial Review.
The Victorian government is also planning new vertical schools in Prahran and South Melbourne.
The new Adelaide high school will include state-of-the-art laboratories, food technology kitchens and exhibition spaces together with a highly sustainable design, but a big proportion of its cost is the land.
The South Australian government spent $30 million of taxpayer funds to buy UniSA's Reid Building site behind the old Royal Adelaide Hospital last year, despite the state valuer-general recording the site's value at just $7.3 million.
Planning Minister John Rau said the price reflected the market value of the site, that is, what private sector developers would have been prepared to pay for it.
The new high school on Frome Street will comprise a completely refurbished Reid building linked by a glass atrium to a new six-storey building with a rooftop terrace and open-planned plaza space at ground level designed by Cox Architecture and Design Inc.
Turner & Townsend Thinc will provide project management and facilitation services for the high-rise school. Its global parent, Turner & Townsend is providing cost management and advisory services for the construction of the new Parramatta vertical school.