Winners of the Inaugural South Australian Chapter Awards announced

Published: Friday 27 October 2017

The inaugural SA Chapter Awards for Learning Environments Australasia (LEA) has demonstrated that South Australia is home to great educators and designers who are collaborating to show the rest of Australasia that small projects can have big impacts.

Under the leadership of Chapter President, Marino Rossi, SA Chapter of LEA is now a thriving grouping of educators, designers and allied professionals. From small beginnings  seventeen years ago, SA seeded LEA’s spread across Australia , New Zealand and Singapore to become regional  community of over 700 professionals working together to plan and build better learning environments.

At the inaugural awards presentation held at ODASA in September, a wide selection of recent projects competing across five categories were showcased. Seven jurors, including prominent local specialists in outdoor play and futures thinking, as well as architects and educators, assessed the entries. All projects had to have been completed within the last three years.

Despite the fact that no projects were entered in the complete new facility category, entries were received in the categories that covered new buildings, large and small scale renovations, educational innovation and outdoor learning spaces.  The entries clearly demonstrated that through combining excellence in educational practice with design thinking, tired existing spaces can be transformed into inspiring new learning environments that encourage and support the multiple modes of learning possible in the digital age.

Notable were amongst the award and commendation winners were  major renovations and additions at Flinders University, Adelaide High and Pulteney Grammar  to support collaborative and self- directed learning in senior secondary and tertiary sectors.  These spaces demonstrated that quality learning is possible anywhere and anytime, particularly in spaces that are designed to make the most of South Australia’s daylight, climate and lifestyle.  These projects also demonstrated that external spaces are just as important as interior spaces in supporting learning, particularly when wireless digital technology delivers portable and interactive learning resources

The winners and commendation in the “Small renovation” and “Education Innovation” categories demonstrated that with determination and imagination, spaces that were once traditional classrooms can be integrated with external spaces and corridor spaces and transformed into new learning environments that can be equally inspiring for young learners as new facilities. Indeed the innovation award demonstrated that an educator and an architect working together can develop and explore a multitude of new ideas to transform basic learning spaces at minimal cost.

Also included in the awards was a category for “Outdoor Learning and Landscaping”. The winning entry was a group of transformed outdoor spaces in country early learning centres, a number of which were formerly kindergartens established in the post-war era.  These spaces were remodelled after extensive consultation with local user groups, to become attractive and engaging settings for nature -play based learning. The jurors were so impressed by these projects that that also awarded this entry the overall winner category.

The incoming Chapter President, David Kilpatrick, said:  “Following a successful inaugural awards round, we will be continuing with a biennial awards program and look forward to more SA projects being awarded at the national and international level.”

Winners and Commendations - Inaugural South Australian Chapter Awards

Category 2: New construction of an Individual Facility

Winner: Adelaide High School – Learning Centre
Commendation: Galilee Catholic School, Aldinga – New Administration Building

Category 3: Renovation/Modernisation over $2m

Winner: Flinders University - Student Hub and Plaza
Commendation: Pulteney Grammar School - Centre for Senior Learning

Category 4: Renovation/Modernisation under $2m

Winner: St Peter’s Woodlands Grammar School - Early Learning Centre Expansion
Commendation: Westminister School – Year 8 Facilities

Category 5: An Education Initiative or a Design Solution for an Innovative Program

Winner: Calvary Lutheran Primary School - Enrichment Program

Category 6: landscaping/Outdoor learning areas

Winner: Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) - Outdoor Learning Areas
Commendation: Flinders University - Student Hub and Plaza

Overall Award Winner
Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) - Outdoor Learning Areas (Category 6 Winner)

Article : Andrew Gehling

Photos: Flinders University