Guildford Grammar Preparatory School Development

Project Details

CHRISTOU Design Group

Commendation Category 2: New Construction: Major Facility

11 Terrace Road, Guildford, WA 6055

Kent Peters – Bursar – Guildford Grammar School


Project Overview

The Preparatory School creates a series of individual linked buildings set within the landscape. These buildings explore opportunities for the integration of play and learning within a variety of spaces. The buildings are oriented to capture views and allow for the connection of external learning with the internal classroom environment.

Jury Citation

Guildford Grammar Preparatory School’s collection of three new two-storey buildings for Years 1 to 6 students and teachers are designed to promote fun, play and exploration. Each building is structured around a visually transparent and physically permeable central street—the social spine of the building—that provides vertical and horizontal connections between the interior learning spaces as well as places for kinesthetic learning, movement and play. These spaces are shared by children of different ages and have become important venues for younger children seeking guidance from older children who in turn are developing valuable skills as leaders. Children working independently in the shared spaces maintain visual contact with their supervising teacher who is working with other groups of children in an adjacent classroom space.

The intent of the master plan to create a connected learning landscape is evident in the relationship between the three buildings, direct access between indoor and outdoor spaces, and purposefully designed outdoor settings that invite active play with water and sand. The material language of the buildings, red brick and zinc, is sympathetic to the architectural heritage of the campus and large sandstone slabs help to integrate the buildings into their landscaped surroundings. Inside the buildings are light and bright. A colour pallet of white, greys, black and the soft gold of natural ply is punctuated occasionally by carefully executed burst of bright colour that are used to highlight such things as soft furnishings, personal storage units, reading nooks and crawl spaces. The spatial opportunities created inside these buildings and the exterior spaces they help define are designed to free children and teachers from the limitations of four walls and provoke them to ask “what if… what next?” in a connected learning environment.

The Preparatory School Building has by every measure been an overwhelming success. Significant research, dialogue and collaboration went into every stage of the project.

The project entails a major rebuild of the preparatory school, inclusive of years 1-6 and administration. The selected site was highly constrained by overhead power lines and a major gas line, leaving a sliver of developable land west of the resource centre. The plan responds to this narrow parcel of land, the site topography and the orientation to the views of the sports fields and floodplain in the distance.

The scheme creates a series of smaller buildings, linked by courtyards, play spaces and learning breakout spaces. The architectural language is sympathetic with the campus and the recently completed Thwaites Centre, for which this building was briefed to be a ‘cousin’. Materials are consistent with the heritage character of the campus - red brick, zinc and sandstone create a simple palette through which elements of the building form are expressed.

The desire for linked learning spaces and the incorporation of play throughout the project, created high levels of transparency and permeability; allowing the classrooms to connect to each other, to breakout spaces, and to the external environment. Courtyards play a major role in the project and allow a dialogue with the site, the landscape and learning. These spaces will also evolve over time to suit programming, student play and breakout requirements.

Internally the plan is centred around a street, which connects, horizontally and vertically, to all the spaces within. This social space forms a critical part of the learning environment and creates smaller scale spaces within. The well-mannered external envelope of the buildings is transformed internally to a space filled with light, colour and texture; creating an engaging and dynamic environment for the students and teachers to learn and explore.

The design of the buildings and rooms have been extraordinary in that they allow teachers and students to ask “what if” and “what next” without being constrained by the four walls of a traditional classroom.

And most importantly, kids love the bright airy spaces full of their work and learning.

This page last updated: Tuesday 24 May 2016

2016 Category 2 New Construction Major Facility