Ichthus Centre, St Monica’s Primary School, Wodonga

The Ichthus Centre is a dedicated learning environment for 120 Years 5 and 6 students at St Monica’s Primary School in Wodonga, Victoria. It is a conversion of two conventional classrooms, a library space and a storeroom into a learning environment comprising a range of interlinked learning settings designed to support individualised constructivist learning.

Project Details

Architects
No. 42 Architects

Award
Winner Category 4: Renovation under $1M

Project Overview

Taking its name from the Christian fish symbol the Ichthus Centre is a dedicated learning environment for 120 Years 5 and 6 students at St Monica’s Primary School in Wodonga, Victoria. It is the result of rigorous design collaboration between No. 42 Architects, the school’s principals and Years 5 and 6 teachers. With a limited budget they have converted two conventional classrooms, a library space and a storeroom into a learning environment comprising a range of interlinked learning settings designed to support individualised constructivist learning. The Ichthus fish is at the heart of the architectural plan in the form of a fish-shaped glass bowl, which is an acoustically separate space for video green screen production, audio recordings and meetings. Its transparent walls permit views into and through the space creating a visually connected learning environment. Encircling the ‘fishbowl’ are three large group areas for collective instruction, workshops and group work; a small glass meeting room (the fish’s tail) for individual quiet work, small group noisy work, and student/teacher conferences; a tiered presentation and performance space for 40 students; a wet, hot area for science, art and cooking; a covered outdoor learning space; and a teacher’s alcove. The organisation of the learning settings within the architectural space takes advantage of the light and thermal conditions of the pre-existing building reducing the need for artificial heating and cooling. Bold colours and a range of different furniture types are used throughout the environment to emphasise the distinct characteristics of each learning setting and the specific kinds of learning modalities and postures they support. The inextricable link between pedagogy and space evident in the design of the Ichthus Centre is testament to the detailed interrogation that the teachers and architect made of the pedagogical environment they wished to create. Throughout the design process architect Ken Woodman made presentations to parents, teachers and students and responded to their questions. Prior to occupation of the building he conducted tours with the teachers and together they discussed the ways in which each setting could be used. Since occupation of the building in June this year Ken has been conducting ongoing interviews with students and teachers to better understand the ways in which they are using and inhabiting the Centre. Assistant Principal Jacqui Partington says "My original view that space was just a facilitator of teaching and learning has been significantly challenged. I could not have imagined that the space created by Ken Woodman would have transformed our teaching and learning to such a degree. The pedagogical hum that is present in this building is an indication of the physical environment meeting the student’s learning endeavours.”

This page last updated: Tuesday 11 September 2012