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Preshil, The Margaret Lyttle Memorial School, Arlington Kindergarten and Primary School Campus

Architect: Kevin Borland

East | E07

Arlington is the name of the Kindergarten and Primary School campus of Preshil, The Margaret Lyttle Memorial School in Kew – Australia’s oldest continuing progressive school. Preshil was founded by Margaret Jane Ruth (Greta) Lyttle in 1931. In 1944 she was succeeded by her niece, Margaret Alice Elizabeth (Margaret, affectionately known as Mug) Lyttle. The school remains a continuing legacy of their pioneering contribution to progressive education in Australia and a vivid expression of a learning setting that embodies a ‘garden for children’. The school comprises a cluster of freestanding wooden structures behind the old Arlington Estate, which was designed by Bates Peebles and Smart in 1921. From 1959, the school hall and five classrooms were progressively designed by Kevin Borland and in 1972, his architectural assembly was awarded the RAIA Bronze Medal, the profession’s highest distinction. Borland (whose six children attended Preshil) designed the buildings in collaboration with the students, whom he saw as his clients. His design colleagues also included partnerships with Bill Irwin (as engineer) and Ellis Stones (as landscaper), both giants in their respective disciplines. The result is a series of extraordinary spaces that challenge and charm. Unexpected twists such as secret trapdoors, mezzanines, undercrofts, and cubby spaces encourage children to explore and develop their physical, social, spatial, and creative skills – immersed in a complex landscape of shrubbery and trees. Preshil not only supports collaborative and inquiry-based learning, but continues to stimulate architects and educators who are interested in designing spaces appropriate to the needs of 21st century learners. For all these reasons, Preshil is included on the Victoria Heritage Register. In recent years the school has commenced its restoration work program which will ensure the knowledge continuum of its exceptional architectural assets. 

Need to Know

  • Open: Thursday 1 January 10am-3pm

  • Photography Restricted: Yes

  • What's Open: All parts of the building

  • Special Note: Some limitations to wheelchair access.

  • Tour Type: E07

  • Access: Pram accessible, Limited mobility access

  • Building Type: Education

  • Facilities: Toilets

  • Special Programming: Listen to short presentations on the buildings and the educational philosophy they represent.

  • Year Built: 1962, 1976

  • Transport: Stop 77: Barkers Rd/Glenferrie Rd on route 16.


395 Barkers Road, Kew 3101, VIC


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