ST. MARK'S PRIMARY SCHOOL SENIOR SCHOOL UPGRADE
With the support of the BER Funding, St Marks Dingley embarked on this opportunity to transform their existing main block of eight classrooms into a facility for 21st century learning. All of the existing fabric was retained and extensions proposed to enable the new facility to meet their enrolment needs for years 1 – 4 students into two neighbourhoods.
The existing building was a maze of tall, narrow corridors and classrooms in brown face brickwork. Complex ceiling slopes swept upwards to isolated highlights. The design solution dramatically removed most of the internal walls but for economy reasons retained most of the structural steel columns. The perimeter of the existing building was stepped which ultimately proved useful both in attaching new forms and creating zones within the internal spaces. The central lightwell was proposed as external learning and a pivot about which the 1-2 and 3-4 neighbourhoods gather and connect.
After working with Julia Aitken, the teaching group had formulated an educational brief. Central to this brief was the instruction that the teaching spaces should generally not be enclosable with any form of folding/sliding doors. The adaptability and flexibility would lie in the choice of mobile furniture and fittings which could readily be rearranged.
To meet curriculum demands it was decided to equip the two new learning additions at opposite extremities of the building with closable panels to enable quiet/noisy activity to take place at defined times. The collaborative learning area was supported by withdrawal rooms were also included for smaller group and individuals and defined areas for art. Resource material generally was to be housed in a new purpose built building which was the second component of the BER programme.
Physical definition within the interior was assisted by strategically placed supplementary facilities - storage modules, tiered seating area, computer bank, presentation screens and external wall extensions. Colour became a vital ingredient in these quite large, open floor plans, in generating a spirit, defining learning areas and making some sense of the existing ceiling planes which are now part of a larger area. The carpet became the unifying element across the neighbourhoods with the mobile furniture proposed with highlight colours to identify certain zones.
ESD features were somewhat restricted due to the retention of the existing major structure, but new additions included northern orientation with northerly highlight windows and minimising east and west sun penetration, shading louvres to the highlight windows, new T5 lighting with movement sensors throughout, Low ‘e’ coatings to glazing, good natural light and cross ventilation.
Externally the new extensions enabled a new identity to be forged to replace the largely unremarkable character of the existing building. Strata colouring emphasised the strong forms pitching northwards, shading upwards from grey through yellows to white as an engaging relationship to the play areas.