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Community and experts stake heritage claim for Flynn school

Flynn Primary School in 1974

Flynn Primary School in 1974

Prominent architectural, heritage and cultural organisations have supported a heritage nomination for the Flynn Primary School and grounds. The application was formally accepted by the ACT Heritage Council in April 2007, and it was the first step towards heritage listing of Flynn Primary School, Preschool, health centre and grounds.

Eric Hines of the John Flynn Community Group says the community welcomes the move.

“We again thank the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, the University of Canberra Architecture Faculty, architect Enrico Taglietti, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the Presbyterian Church and the National Trust of Australia (ACT) for providing relevant information and letters of support.”

“It is gratifying to see such wide support and acknowledgement of the heritage value of the Flynn Primary School complex has now been documented through this heritage nomination,” Mr Hines said. “It appears that many in the ACT community and beyond are aware of the architectural and historical significance of the Flynn complex and the value of the longstanding connections with John Flynn, George Simpson, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Australian Inland Mission.”<

The heritage value of the Flynn site came to public attention in 2007 with the damage and removal of the national memorial to Reverend John Flynn but this is only one facet of the longstanding association with John Flynn, George Simpson and the Flying Doctor which dates back 35 years according to Royal Flying Doctor Service, SE Section Executive Director, Clyde Thompson.

“The Flynn community highlighted these architectural and cultural heritage issues during the school closure process and recent consultation about development of the sites,” Mr Hines said. ‘We have had to fast track the heritage nomination because the Government’s consultants have shortlisted an option to bulldoze the building and re-develop the site.”

“In light of the heritage claim, we call on the Territory and Municipal Services Minister to re-install Flynn’s video surveillance equipment to protect the buildings from window damage and other vandalism, ” Mr Hines said. “We have asked both the Territory and Municipal Services Minister, John Hargreaves and Heritage Minister Jon Stanhope for a full and proper examination of this heritage significance before any decisions are taken that could compromise the integrity of the buildings and/or site. Thankfully Jon Stanhope has given us a personal commitment to do so.”

In the Royal Australian Institute of Architects support letter of 17 December 2007, the Institute’s ACT Chapter President Melinda Dodson says, ‘The RAIA has asked for a citation to be prepared by the ACT Heritage Council to assess the cultural significance of Flynn Primary School.’

“The RAIA believes that Flynn Primary School is of local heritage significance and has cultural significance to the ACT,” Ms Dodson says. “The RAIA would offer support for the Flynn school’s listing on the Interim Heritage Places Register once the cultural significance to the ACT is confirmed by the Council”

“The Flynn school complex is a landmark (1971-73) design for open planning in schools and the associated educational philosophy that was showcased by the National Capital Development Commission and the Education department,” according to Mr Hines.

University of Canberra Professor of Architecture, Stephen Frith says, ‘Flynn Primary School is “a seminal work of Canberra architect Enrico Taglietti” – the winner of the RAIA 2007 Gold Medal – the highest award in Australian architecture. “These buildings are unique to the period in which they were built, being an early example of open planning in primary schools, and are worthy of preservation due to their architectural quality,” Professor Frith says.

Images from Flynn

Angles on the textured concrete walls


Flynn grounds

Landscape setting & grounds

Enrico Taglietti visting the school he designed

History and design

Memorial to John Flynn

Memorial to John Flynn