International Grammar School, Kerrie Murphy Building

The Kerrie Murphy Building for the International Grammar School Sydney, celebrates the joy and excitement of learning. It provides an arts and crafts facility, a library, staff offices and an indoor sports hall over four floors. The building employs mixed mode air conditioning and is incredibly energy efficient.

Project Details

Michael Heenan

1-3 Macarthur Street, Ultimo, Sydney, NSW 2007

Allen Jack+Cottier Architects


Project Overview

This school building for the International Grammar School in Ultimo, Sydney, celebrates the joy and excitement of learning for the young students, who have absolutely fallen in love with it. Michael Heenan, principal of Allen Jack+Cottier Architects has delivered an instinctive, organic design to create a memorable and stimulating school building. The accommodation consists of an arts and crafts facility, a library, staff offices and an indoor sports hall. The roof is to become an outdoor playground shaded by an array of photovoltaic cells. This represents an enormous achievement for the limited budget. The glazed amorphous openings appear like perfectly formed droplets of water on the surface of the building. ‘Contrasting the mass and weight of concrete with glass and its absolute precision, beautiful reflective qualities and ability to change its energy ratings and U values is something I am most interested in.’ Says Michael Heenan. The method for attaching the window glass to the outer walls aimed to create the illusion of there being no glass present. The windows use the latest e-glass technology to maintain a high level of insulation. The fully glazed panels were transported to site and each floor was erected in 3.5 hours. This mixed mode building is incredibly energy efficient. Thermodynamic analysis led to a cruciform system of natural ventilation which can be altered to react to the prevailing winds. Embedded in the precast composite panels is 50mm of high-density polystyrene with a 65mm outer skin and a 165mm inner skin of structural concrete; perfect to retain heat or coolth after a night purge. Photovoltaic panels supply power; all water is collected and reused. The building is linked into the existing school buildings on two levels tomaintain free flowing access and site security. The main entry on Day Street allows separate community use of the library and the hall, independent of normal school use. The building was designed for primary school children. There should be a joy and excitement about discovery and learning at that age which is deliberately reflected in the form and feel of the building. It kindles a child-like response and is deeply embedded in its place.

This page last updated: Monday 10 September 2012