Flexible, Open Learning Spaces

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This is a new primary school reusing a 1970 three-storey former Telstra training centre. The design brief was to create an inspirational educational space that provides flexible, open learning spaces to suit small children and accommodate a high level of technology. Timber was fundamental to achieving this, it plays the critical role in producing a warm and natural environment that counterbalances the partially-exposed concrete structure of the building. Timber floors and acoustic ceilings, movable screens, joinery that includes shelves, built-in seats and withdrawal spaces, enable different teaching configurations. The design boldly removes all fixed walls between three teaching spaces. All spaces are connected by a central timber spine created by elevating a ‘bridge’ one step above all other spaces. In the context of a school the true innovation here is in the flexible space and the use of timber as the primary material.

Architect/Designer: Knut Menden, BVN

Engineer: Robertus Pratikna, Taylor Thomson Whitting

Builder: Andrew Sanderson, Grindley Interiors


Floor Covering: Tongue and groove, 19 mm blackbutt floor (30% of total floor area)

External timber decking: 32 mm blackbutt decking with 4 mm open joints on timber substructure

Internal Panelling: 19 mm hardwood plywood (Victorian ash) perforated paneling for acoustic ceiling and vertical wall cladding

Doors: External doors used Raico/Doepfner timber framed, aluminium capped glass facade with timber framed glass doors, bi-folding doors (Victorian ash/ spruce). Internal doors were timber framed glass/polycarbonate sliding doors (blackbutt), with Victorian Ash door frames.

Joinery and Cabinetry: Eco-Core white birch multi-ply

The design approach was to provide flexible, open learning spaces and to create a warm atmosphere. This was achieved through using timber as the main material in floors, wall panelling, ceiling and joinery, timber produces the warm and welcoming environment. Using minimal colour and predominantly timber provided a calm background for learning.

The brief required a variety of differently scaled spaces incorporating technology to suit small children. Movable screens and joinery including shelving, built-in seats and withdrawal spaces enable different teaching configurations. An elevated central spine called the bridge connects the length of the space and provides additional learning spaces. Two small group withdrawal spaces are the only enclosed areas and form a central component of the free-standing joinery elements. Transparent administration areas are visible to the school community. To increase daylight and natural ventilation, the ground floor brick facade was demolished and replaced by high-performance timber-framed double-glazing, with large bi-fold doors opening to the timber deck.

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