Planned and Designed to a New Benchmark

Published: Sunday 27 September 2015

When a well-informed educator who understands architecture works with an architect who understands education and learning environments, new ideas are generated and a new benchmark was created.

On 9th September 2015 about 70 CEFPI members and friends were welcomed to Immanuel College by the Principal, Kevin Richardson as a prelude to hearing about and looking around the multi-award-winning Margaret Ames senior school.

Kevin and a large group of students, with input from the staff, fellow students and school community, have worked closely with Kon Michael (architect) and Zoe Avon (interior designer) from Swanbury Penglase Architects to plan, brief, design and deliver a centre which has corporate style but practical, spacious, light-filled spaces which complement contemporary learning through agile spaces that enhance the student's spatial awareness for better educational outcomes.

Sarah Constructions, a South Australian company, was the builder and has realised the design with a number of intricate design details and technology requirements.

Kevin said the aim was to create a world class building for world class education with one of the underlying philosophies was " to design it to get it wrong" - ie to be able to be easily transformed, at anytime. This included providing opportunities through futuristic technologies to ensure freedom to change any time and to rearrange the building and spaces through innovative cantilevered column free spaces.

Specific features of the centre include an adaptive 200 seat theatre with a huge
i-Pad on the wall that can be used as a live music venue, an independent run coffee shop and with 3D virtual technologies being implemented into the educational delivery.

Other features include natural light, clean and uncluttered work areas ("no crap on the walls" said the students) and ongoing monitoring to ensure a healthy building.

The soft furnishings complement the agile spaces with carefully selected chairs, tables in lieu of desks, as well as write on tables and walls, no cables, able to conference anywhere in the world. There is student access to all areas, and small group pod units.

The building is open from 7.15 am to 7.30pm Monday to Friday with Boarding Students using it until 9.30pm for study sessions afterwards, but the students like the place so much they have asked if it could be open on Sundays as well.

The Margaret Ames building is a very interesting and progressive centre – and beautiful too!

Ann Gorey