Adelaide Botanic High School © Newington Photography; Adelaide Botanic High School © Newington Photography;

Adelaide Botanic High School, Adelaide

STEM-focused high school opens in Adelaide’s botanic garden precinct

The CBD-based Adelaide Botanic High School (ABHS) has welcomed the first students (Years 8 and 9) into its two multi-storey buildings, set within Adelaide’s Botanic Garden.

The unique campus, designed for an eventual 1250 students, boasts extensive recreation spaces on the building’s upper levels, in the open-air plaza at ground level and in the surrounding parklands.

Inside, a glass atrium connects a new seven-storey building to the completely refurbished Reid building which had formerly been part of the University of South Australia. Arup engineered the façades that help to create an internal environment optimised for thermal comfort, and designed specialist lighting that creates distinct atmospheres for both day and night-time use.

Project Summary


$100m project

1250students by 2022

Secondary students from inner-city suburbs will have access to exceptional facilities at ABHS. The school offers ‘future-focused’ learning spaces for an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning. Several rooms are cantilevered from the buildings into the atrium, and there are state of the art science, design and technology laboratories and specialist rooms for music, theatre, art, sport and media.

With ABHS located within the broader precinct of universities, performing art facilities, South Australian Museum, zoo, state library and the future Australian Space Agency headquarters, students also have access to unprecedented learning opportunities.

Engineering a school of the future, unique to its setting

The school has a strong connection to the surrounding landscape. We designed the façade systems to bring light and garden views into the school, using vertical sun shading fins and a tension steel framework for the atrium façade glass.


The atrium features a light-weight, variable shading ETFE ‘cushion’ roof which constantly adjusts to optimise the balance of heat-gained and daylighting to the space, depending on environmental conditions. The system is more ‘open’ on cool, cloudy days, and more ‘closed’ on hot sunny days.  

Arup collaborated closely with the architect and sustainability consultant to ensure the facade systems support the environmentally friendly nature of the buildings and the goal to minimise energy use.

We worked hard with the design team to ensure the atrium space would function as more than a transient walkway. With good year-round thermal comfort, we hope it is a place where students and teachers can comfortably dwell, interact and connect with one another. ”

Nick Roach head shot Nick Roach Associate
Adelaide Botanic High School © Newington Photography Adelaide Botanic High School © Newington Photography

Our lighting designers enhanced interior and exterior spaces, including the theatre, recreation areas and the atrium, with attention to the school’s external night time experience.

The night time lighting accentuates the depth of the atrium by placing localised lights to illuminate less formal areas and create a distinctly different atmosphere compared to the generous daylighting effect created by the translucent atrium roof.

The result is a carefully considered lighting scheme that aims to provide distinctly different areas to complement contemporary learning styles both by day and by night. ”

Tim Carr Tim Carr Australasia Leader Lighting

A ‘green’ school that encourages active transport

The buildings’ sustainable design minimises energy and water use, and the planting of drought tolerant plants on campus saves water.

Our pedestrian planning team ensured the entrance and key facilities within the school are designed for high use and that accessible transport options link the school to the greater city.

As well as having a dedicated kiss and drop zone, the school is easily accessible by public transport. There are walking and cycling paths connecting the school to the precinct, providing active transport options for students and staff.