Our Lady of Assumption Primary School

Project Details


Joint Winner Category: 3 Renovation/Modernisation / Over $2m

1A Hamilton Street East, North Strathfield, 2137


Project Overview

Stage one of a new primary school, re-using a former Telstra training centre, the challenge was turning this unattractive building into an inspirational educational space. Now diverse learning spaces, provide high levels of transparency and a variety of differently scaled spaces using materials that create a warm and natural atmosphere.

Jury Citation

The heart of this project is a clearly articulated theory of student-centred learning, sensitively translated and imbued throughout with a strong design ethic. This results in an educational complex of an exceptionally high standard, which invites all who enter to learn on multiple levels.

This is an elegant and playful re-imagining of school on many levels that started with the repurposing of a commercial services building into a place of learning that honours diverse ways of coming to know. Its innovative spatial planning explores the simplicity of flexibility, in a manner that does not assert the requirement for flexibility, in ways that unwittingly create complexity.

The refined interior pallet is soft and warm, incorporating natural materials, tones and textures, which help to create a tranquil learning environment that will age gracefully with use. Insightful design incorporates natural lighting and ventilation, adding to an already high level of operational flexibility. The understated element of surprise, present in the joinery, is an example of how to provide learners with opportunities for exercising autonomy without adding operational complexity to the day-to-day practice of teaching and learning. Moreover, these fixtures artfully create spatial separation and partial occlusion without resulting in separation or social isolation.

This project is a triumph of understated simplicity, informed by both theory and practice.

This is stage one of a new primary school that reuses a 1970 three storey former Telstra training centre.  The challenges were to turn this unattractive soulless concrete building into an inspirational educational space. BVN were engaged to develop a master plan for the whole site in order to determine the exact nature of the brief for successive stages of work.

The project began prior to the appointment of a school Principal, initial briefings to clarify the school’s vision was developed in collaboration with members of Sydney Catholic Schools. The resultant visioning documents provided foundations which the Principal built upon.

The overarching design evolved from the visioning workshops and is based on these principles:

Natural materials are maximised throughout the space from partially exposed existing concrete structure to timber floors. A central spine acts as a ‘bridge’ connecting learners of all ages and staff along the length of the space. Removable wooden boxes within the bridge provide elements which students can remove to use as seats, or create nooks in the floor for reading or play.

Sliding transparent polycarbonate and pinboard panels, and movable furniture enable a variety of spatial configurations. In combination with built-in seats and two small withdrawal spaces, a multitude of different learning settings can take place concurrently. Administration areas are fully transparent in order to maximise connection between students and staff, and showcase work/learning within the school.

There is minimal use of colour, allowing the predominant material, natural timber, to provide a calm background to student activities.

Natural ventilation and daylight were increased by replacing brick walls with air-tight high performance timber framed double glazing incorporating large openings to an external timber deck. As a result heaters are barely turned on in winter and air-conditioning equipment was also reduced considerably an outcome which is in excess of any standard energy efficiency requirements for a school.

This page last updated: Tuesday 24 May 2016