2019 Learning Environments South Australia and Northern Territory Announced!

Published: Wednesday 2 October 2019

Big or small, urban or rural– no reason to compromise excellence in new learning environments

The second biennial SA and NT Chapter Awards for Learning Environments Australasia (LEA) were announced on September 25.  This year the SA Chapter  joined with Northern Territory in a joint venture to showcase outstanding learning spaces in both domains.  

Continuing the high standard of planning, design and execution evident in the 2017 competition, a total of 21 entries were received across 8 categories. The variety of settings, from Adelaide CBD to outer suburban locations and a rural city demonstrated the diversity of educational environments benefitting from enhancement to accommodate modern learners.  Notable were the high number of projects accommodating initiatives to better incorporate and encourage a broader take up of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) learning into primary and secondary school programs.

All entries must have been occupied for at least 6 months and construction completed within the last 3 years.

Five projects received Awards and an additional seven received Commendations.

The Award winner for New Facility on a New Site, and the Overall winner, went to Adelaide Botanic High School. The first new public high school in the city centre since the opening of Adelaide Boys High in 1951, this new educational landmark is a visually exciting, futures-oriented and an audacious teaching and learning environment. Comprehensive research, planning and consultation fed into the design brief.

Nazareth Catholic College – Caritas Centre (Flinders Park Campus) received the Award for New Facility on an existing site over $8 million.  The design of a new senior years centre on a challenging narrow site bordering the natural red gum forest of the Torrens Linear Park, is encouraging a shift from traditional pedagogy to a more flexible teaching and learning approach, including the incorporation of communal learning areas, breakout spaces and a cafeteria to provide a flexible adult learning environment.

The Port Augusta Secondary School STEMworks project received the Award for New Facility on an existing site under $8million. This highly innovative project is a tribute to the outback spirit.  The outcome encapsulates the qualities of 21st Century education; ingenuity, innovation, resourcefulness and improvisation, in a rural school setting

In the category of Renovation/Modernisation under $5m  the Christies Beach High School STEM Centre received the Award. This project was commended on providing a learning environment which embraces collaborative spaces in a learning street, break out spaces and study nooks. The project demonstrated clear commitment to providing contemporary, visually evocative and flexible learning areas to enable a cross disciplinary STEM education.

On the smaller scale two projects were awarded.

Firstly, the Ellen Benham Science Centre at Walford Anglican School for Girls received the Award for a Project under $2 million. This redevelopment of an existing two-story science blockimpressed the judges by the depth and breadth of planning including exploration of layout options to understand delivery of the STEM program and project-based learning.

Secondly, the Brompton Primary School STEMworks project, entailing theredevelopment of an existing library space and expansion into an outdoor area, received the Award for an Innovative Educational Initiative. The jury found the project's pragmatic emphasis on STEM facilities, which enables students to get messy and try new ideas, a radical departure from the usual pristine uncluttered approach to these learning areas. The creative reconfiguring of existing spaces gave each a unique new feel to deliver communal and hands-on learning.

Amongst the projects receiving commendations were new facilities at St Mary’s College and Pulteney Grammar School in the CBD, both combining elegant public realm contributions to Adelaide’s prominent terrace streetscapes while accommodating flexible learning spaces for secondary cohorts.

In a contrasting setting, also commended, was the new Mother Teresa School in the outer Darwin suburb of Zuccoli, that successfully accommodates contemporaryand communal learning, utilising Reggio Emilia principles, in a facility that gives powerful expression to the school’s ethos in a developing suburban community.

Commendations were also awarded to new facilities at Kildare College and Cabra Dominican College and upgrade projects at Swallowcliffe P-7 School and Loreto College.

Chapter President, David Kilpatrick, said:  “This biennial awards program, now welcoming entries from NT, is continuing to demonstrate that the appetite for excellence in learning environments in SA and the NT has gained momentum.  The application of principles of research, planning and inclusive consultation leading to responsive and flexible design, that are embodied in these awards, is producing facilities that stimulate effective learning.”

View  2019 LE SA and NT Awards Gallery

Read  Jury Citations

Article written by Andrew Gehling

Images of Adelaide Botanic High School;  Architects:  Cox Architecture and DesignInc;  Photos: Sam Noonan Photographer.