A comprehensive and multi-stage planning process was undertaken. Through each phase of the project, our team led a highly collaborative design process that ensured the needs of the modern learner remained at the core of each decision. A Project Reference Group (PRG) formed by technical stakeholders, user representatives and local teaching professionals established a project specific education model, tailored objectives and clarified a functional design brief that responded to the Education Facilities Standards and Guidelines.
Collaborative Design Process
Guiding the project were five key Education Principles defined by the New South Wales Department of Education;
- Focus on the needs of the learner and the learning
- Facilitate a community culture that is welcoming, inclusive and establishes a sense of belonging. The school facilities will be an integral part of connecting to the broader community without impacting on the school’s daily operations
- Provide an identity and be aesthetically engaging
- Provide contemporary, sustainable learning environments
- Embed the potential for reconfigurability, both in the present for multi-purpose use and over time for changing needs
The architectural language of the building establishes a bold, confident, forward-thinking identity for the new school. The circular form recedes away from the front boundary reducing the visual impact on the existing residential streetscape.
The striking circular design works to maintain much of the existing established landscaping; reducing the impact on the site whilst facilitating innovative learning commons around the shared courtyard.
“This connection with nature and the outdoors is one of the most effective design outcomes in the finished school building.”
— Megan Gibbons, Principal, Smalls Road Public School
The architecture and landscape are complimentary; the inner cladding colours reflect the courtyard planting palette and the established mature trees are experienced when moving between spaces along the inner walkways and across the courtyard.
Core facilities are arranged on the ground floor to maximise access from street level. The welcoming, double height Library accommodates a reading room upon entry and group activity spaces on the upper level.
Internal finishes and furniture reflect the cladding colour themes, extending and strengthening the visual link to the courtyard and giving each child a strong connection with the identity of the shared learning spaces and their own classroom.
The circular form facilitates an innovative pedagogical framework that promotes a bias towards curiosity and engagement across year level cohorts. The teaching spaces are organised as year level home bases and share visual connections to each other across the shared landscaped green courtyard.
- Naturally cross ventilated
- Maximises natural lighting
- Retained existing mature trees
- Solar energy
- Rainwater harvesting
- Glazed mechanical louvers allowing natural cross ventilation
- Vertical shading strategies that are tailored to the orientation
- Maximised natural light
The design team uncovered how local teachers collaborate, what classroom settings they valued and how they integrated classes to facilitate tailored personal learning plans.
With fully integrated specialist facilities, strong indoor and outdoor connections, and age and stage appropriate learning settings the Home Bases are designed as clusters of four classrooms interconnected by a flexible learning setting that includes;
- practical activity areas
- traditional didactic teaching spaces
- group presentation rooms
- withdrawal rooms and spaces
- direct access to outdoor learning areas
- large areas open floor space
Large areas of clear open floor space allow for the whole cohort, up to 120 students to share in large group and varied learning experiences.