Ormiston Primary School, East Auckland, New Zealand

John Sofo, (ASC Architects), describes the thinking that sits behind one of Auckland’s newest schools, Ormiston Primary. Situated in East Auckland as part of one of the new housing developments. Ormiston Primary, caters for students Year 0 to Year 6, it opened its doors for learning 3rd February 2015.

Early on in the design process John and his team recognised that Ormiston Primary school was going to be one of three schools within a larger connected site. The other schools being the already established Ormiston Senior High School, (Yrs 11-13) and the future development of the Ormiston Junior High School (Yrs 7-10). Due to the positioning of each school on the site, there was an opportunity to physically connect all three schools together in some way.

It became apparent that there was probably no other location in New Zealand that lent itself to creating a physical connection more easily than this one. The raw idea of metaphorical linking the three schools could be achieved by physically connecting the schools. It is hoped that the physical link can impact on learning for the students and teachers. The idea was to also to connect the community of students and parents, as well as creating a community of teachers. The physical link will be built to establish a ‘connected learning community’.

The New Zealand schooling structure is very compartmentalising by age and so by default is the learning. Here was an opportunity to use the buildings as a way of breaking down those compartments and have the built structures facilitate the connections for all learners and the wider community. To have the buildings and the connecting spaces deliver impact, support and allow the students, teachers and whanau to 'walk through' the three schools rather than being stationary at one. To create a flow where different aged students could have the opportunity to interact, share and learn together.

This connecting of the three schools will be demonstrated in the spine or axis that will eventually exist once all three schools are complete. This ‘community walkway’ will eventuality run from the Primary School, through the middle of the Junior High School and will end at the Senior High School, creating a flow that emphasises the connection rather than the boundaries of the three schools.

It is hoped that the buildings can be used to facilitate new ways of learning and teaching and enable rich connections from within and across all three schools. John acknowledges that the exciting part of the process is waiting to see how the students and teachers demonstrate their use of the buildings and perhaps they will evolve learning at a social, professional and learning level into something that we have yet seen in New Zealand education yet.

Jacque Allen

Photos by Michael Ng - Images provided by ASC Architects

This page last updated: Thursday 30 July 2015