St Columba's Catholic School
Neeson Murcutt Architects Pty Ltd
215 Elswick Street Leichhardt North NSW 2040
The project transforms a single stream catholic primary school. Classrooms are replaced with open learning areas, provoking different ways of learning. The spatial experience is powerful, architecture binding contemporary pedagogy with local history. The site strategy – open to the street – acknowledges that lasting communities are built around schools.
The project is a substantial alteration to a single stream catholic primary school. The site contains of a lineage of buildings dating back to 1901. Connectedness was a key design driver based on an understanding that strong and lasting community networks are built around schools – connectedness of learning areas, between inside and outside, to the local context, between school and church.
A landscape curtilage is re-established to integrate church, hall and school on the site and with the street. The school is organized in three distinct zones – stage 1 north, stage 2/3 south, and reception/administration in-between. The learning resource centre lies at their junction. The new reception reaches towards the street as a ‘welcome’, defining gardens either side. These outdoor learning courtyards are visually open to the community.
The project is transformative. Classrooms are replaced with open learning spaces to provoke different ways of learning. There is a high level of transparency throughout. Learning is encouraged by seeing it take place everywhere, as every space is a space for learning. Technology is integral. Furniture is easily rearranged and done so on a daily basis. There are multiple connections to the outside.
The original school building is retained. The new building behind maintains the height of the old building along its entire section whilst expanding in plan. This creates a powerful spatial transition – intimate in early years learning areas, becoming more expansive as the children grow. The crisp white ‘ceilingscape’ is the architectural ordering device. The roofscape relates school and church as an assemblage of pitches.
This page last updated: Tuesday 24 May 2016
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