The Scots College GCC Science

Project Details

JCA Architects

Commendation Category 5 Educational/Innovation

29-53 Victoria Road Bellevue Hill, Sydney NSW, 2023 Australia

John Cockings

$550 k

Project Overview

Activity Based Learning [ABL] Fitout. The consolidation and refurbishment of 3 traditional Science classrooms into 1 flexible learning environment.

Jury Citation

Designed to raise the profile of science within the school and facilitate a pedagogical shift in teaching practice, The GCC science activity-based learning fit out, provides a series of spaces inviting students to become active participants in scientific enquiry.

By optimising each part of the whole for a specific learning mode, the space has the potential to accommodate several student cohorts undertaking different activities simultaneously, in an area that had previously housed two conventional science classrooms and an adjoining lab.

A rich palette of colours, materials and geometries creates a stimulating environment for activity-based enquiry that highlights the value placed on student centred scientific endeavour.

This project is exuberantly playful, abundantly instructive and pedagogically adventurous in equal measure. Its success is best described by those who find themselves learning - about science, life and learning - within it:

Both students who now arrive early and leave late, and would rather ask ‘What else can I learn?’ than ‘How many marks is this worth?’ And staff, who arrive wondering ‘What will we learn today?’ and not ‘How will I manage today?’

JCA narrative

The Scots College [Senior School] Science staff held an innovative and progressive vision of engaging with the student body in an open & collaborative study environment, raising the profile of science in the College & offering a radical alternative to the 'talking head' mode of teacher instruction. Workshops involving a range of staff set out the project aspirations, developed & defined the design and parameters that would allow the space to function in an optimal manner. Students 'doing' science & not just learning marks a shift from memorisation to applied learning, to lead to genuine understanding [a key project aspiration]. In turn, teachers are enabled to re-imagine the way they teach, to work with both their class and other teachers in a fluid manner across the space. Consistent with the pedagogical theme of Science, inspiration for the design was drawn from elements found in the natural world: snowflake, insect, tree, rock. These primary sources morphed into activity settings that were generated & explored in orthographic projection before conversion into more conventional design line drawings ready for construction.

Extracts from The Scots College narrative

“Through engaging JCA Architects, The Scots College was looking to create a learning space based on activity-based learning principles such that the educational experience of the students could become a student-centred experience in which the activities undertaken could be done so in optimised settings. A desirable outcome was to create a teaching environment that enables (and perhaps forces) the implementation of pedagogical change toward this student-centred experiential process.”

“Given the work on the department’s pedagogical approach there was a large list of activities desired in the space. If this project was taking a whole department view (or a whole of College view) this may be possible however with the confines of the space a limited number of activities should be provided for optimally and the others accommodated as a secondary need utilising the same settings.”

“It has been an exceptionally successful project and as the clients, we could not be happier with the final outcome. Not only as an example of learning spaces of the future but to also inform future design of learning spaces at the College and more broadly across the learning community.”

This page last updated: Tuesday 24 May 2016