Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

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Facility of the week

Mindarie Senior College, Mindarie, Western Australia, Australia

The spatial and architectural image of Mindarie Senior College was conceived as a holistic “institute of learning”, reflecting the trend toward acknowledging the young adult stage of secondary schooling. The building is designed as a mature learning environment where all areas promote educational and social interaction with cross fertilisation of ideas across curriculum areas, rather than a more traditional combination of different building blocks of specialist faculties.

The singularly significant aspect is, in both educational and architectural terms, to move from a number of individualised teaching blocks, dedicated to specific learning areas and separated by courtyards and walkways, to a single building envelope. All the learning areas relate directly to each other and are held together by a central atrium and courtyard. The building incorporates a variety of formal and informal learning spaces and social spaces for student and student/staff interaction. It takes advantage of the site’s spectacular elevated location and is designed to reflect its coastal context and maximise passive environmental control systems.

The site is located approximately 700 metres from the Indian Ocean on the crest of a limestone hill, the highest point in the surrounding area. The building makes references to its seaside context and reflects the nature of the surrounding environment through its planning, form, detail, material and colour. The atrium and external courtyard is the central focus and conceived as one continuous space with views westerly to the ocean and easterly to the Darling Ranges.

The two accommodation wings on either side of the atrium exploit the cross flow ventilation benefits of the prevailing sea breezes. Further responses to the challenge presented by the wind and other environmental conditions include a glazed screen and wind scoops to deflect and channel the breeze, passive roof ventilators, and sunshade canopies over all the windows.

The school is predominantly two-storey with an internal circulation spine, which acts not only as weather protection to this exposed site but as a social conduit and an interactive learning space. The circulation spine incorporates computer alcoves that can be used for individual study or group work. At first floor level, the circulation widens to form an open non dedicated space in the atrium that has been provided for informal learning opportunities. Teaching spaces are designed as an assortment of different sized and shaped rooms that can be combined or separated to suit class size. This spatial customisation gives both teachers and students a sense of ownership and control over their environment.

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About this database

The OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments (CELE) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) launched the “Database of Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investment” on 29 September 2011. It seeks to inform the planning, design, construction, management and evaluation of educational spaces, combining resources for strategic investment in educational infrastructure, with exemplary school and university facilities from all over the world.

Drawing on the output of a joint CELE/European Investment Bank project on “Strategic Investment Planning for Educational Infrastructure” and more than 60 exemplary schools and universities featured in CELE’s flagship publication, “Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011”, this database is a unique international resource for educators, designers, policymakers and researchers alike.

Users of the database are encouraged to add their own resource material, or submit new completed university or school projects for publication on the database. OECD and EIB welcome your input to our project!

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The OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments (CELE) presents the top 6 school and university buildings in ”Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011”.

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