A creative response to forgotten spaces - Claremont College NSW

Published: Sunday 25 June 2017

Recently the NSW Chapter converged on Claremont College in Randwick to explore a refurbishment that concentrated on maximisign the potential of forgotten spaces.

We were greeted by their passionate principal – Doug Thomas – who guided us through the journey he took the school through as they shifted towards collaborative teaching within innovative learning spaces.

Following this, architect Chris Rodgers from Terroir gave us a snap shot of their 5 year relationship with the school and the challenges they faced during the design and construction.  As a building fabric that began in 1910 that then grew with five additions starting in 1980 and completing in 2004, there was a lot of untapped potential.  This began with an exercise of revealing the forgotten spaces consumed by poor circulation and the old cellular teaching techniques by understanding that each space and volume had teaching & learning potential.  


The spaces did not disappoint, each cohort having its own personality whilst being guided by the design principles of Natural Light; Ventilation; Hydration; Allowing for Movement; Kitchens and a sense of home; Acoustics and voice care; curtains and quiet spaces; and providing a place for all of their things! The classrooms were transformed from stuffy cellular boxes to light, bright and airy flexible spaces, maximising the effectiveness of southern light and diffuse top light.

The redundant hallway space was re-conceived as a connector of learning spaces. The forgotten attic space was opened up to allow for an increase in natural light and ventilation, up through the buildings three levels, creating a sense of wonder. The reinvention harnessed the idea that an active mind is an engaged mind.

Article and site tour photos: Daniel Smith

Gallery photos: Terroir/Brett Boardman