Visiting Giant Steps

Recently we had the opportunity to host a CEFPI visit to Giant Steps, a specialist school for children on the Autism Spectrum. Principal Kerrie Nelson warmly welcomed the group of about 40, including architects, educators & occupational therapists, who came to hear about the work of Giant Steps and see the various learning spaces in the school including the most recent project, Markaling House.

The school is housed in the heritage-listed Gladesville Hospital precinct. The heritage building created a challenge for designing learning spaces for children with very unique needs. Along with the principal we heard from Occupational Therapist, Andrew Frakes and Architects, Chris and Mel Mury of Mury Architects. For Chris and Mel this is also a labour of love, as their son is a student at the school.

Markaling House is a fine example of a simple, yet effective design response to specific pedagogical needs, creating a meaningful learning environment and outcomes. The contemporary intervention to the heritage fabric creates a striking interior space addressing multiple needs for autistic children including specific lighting, visual and circulatory requirements.

The following links relate to the Giant Steps event:

1. Video played at the beginning of the presentation
2. By Design radio interview broadcast with Kerrie and Mel 30 June 2010 called 'Designing for Autism'

The event was thoroughly enjoyed by all and many positive comments were received from attendees highlighting the strength of CEFPI, as an organisation bringing together those involved in making better learning environments.
"The combination of the three voices, educator, OT, and architect combined with an exploration of the spaces made for an inspiring and humbling occasion." (Giant Steps attendee)
"As an occupational therapist it was invigorating to meet with architects and educators to discuss how we can better support children with special needs in our schools. As this was my first CEFPI event it was reassuring to be welcomed so warmly." (Giant Steps attendee)

CEFPI NSW Chapter was extremely grateful for the warm welcome and hospitality shown by the team at Giant Steps. The school runs entirely on donations and the income we received from this event has been donated to the school.

This page last updated: Tuesday 9 October 2012