Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

Scotch Oakburn College Middle School, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Exemplary design categories: energy efficiency, flexible learning settings, green school, music and theatre facilities, school/community regeneration

How the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
In 2005 Scotch Oakburn College began planning for a new approach that was more collaborative, more interdisciplinary, more hands on, and more focused on sustainable futures; while attending to students’ social, emotional and spiritual needs. The building was thus designed as three Small Learning Communities in a Learning Studio model spread across two floors. A Cafe, Da Vinci Studio, Einstein Studios, small group studios and significant outdoor Learning Terraces complement the Learning Studios to provide many different settings for student-directed as well as teacher-directed learning. Da Vinci Studios and adjacencies provide an excellent environment for hands-on projects and hypothesis-based learning. At the school’s front door a strategically placed amphitheatre not only provides space for student, teacher and community presentations but also becomes a site for informal, social/emotional learning. Another important attribute of the design is that it is highly flexible on a daily basis with students and teachers having a substantial say in what the spaces look like at any given time. It is also highly adaptable in the long term. This has been achieved by vastly reducing internal load-bearing partitions so that interiors can be easily configured at low cost as future needs dictate. SOC is an environmentally responsible community and a belief in sustainable practices permeates the school’s explicit and hidden curriculum with students, for instance, operating the school’s own working farm. In the design of the campus, every effort was made to use local materials and minimize energy consumption (for example, sensors control many operable windows and window shades to maximize daylight and reduce overheating while also ensuring that the building can be naturally ventilated on good days). Constructed with a steel frame and glazed internal walls, the building incorporates a range of ESD initiatives that reduce running costs and provide a practical display to the students. The new SOC uses extensive glazing and broad sightlines to enable passive supervision or ‘eyes on the street’ by all members of the school community. The design strikes a balance between sensible safety features (such as appropriate guard and stair rails, no unexpected changes in floor height) and self-monitoring in a passively supervised social setting (via extensive internal glazing). The design of the school fosters self-monitoring behavior with passive supervisory support.

Involvement of users and the local community in the planning and design process:
In a series of visioning, planning and design charettes with the architect, the school community began to see the close connections between their re-energised educational model and the redesign of their overall campus.

Activity Areas: 3distinct areas, each of which forms a wireless Personalized Learning Community (PLC) in the Learning Studio model.

Project costs: AUD 15,000,000.00

Source: Submitted to OECD for "Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011" in 2010

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User perspectives (1)

"The new building was opened on 24 March 2009 by His Excellency The Honourable Peter Underwood AO, Governor of Tasmania. "‘Awesome’ was the general response of middle school students as they entered their new building... it is well and truly in use and being enjoyed by staff and students."
Scotch Oakburn The Bulletin

Images (5)

Drawings (4)

Master Plan (Registration required)
application/pdf
Credit: Fielding Nair International
SECTION 1 BASIC (Registration required)
application/pdf
Credit: Fielding Nair International
SOC Middle School First Floor Plan (Registration required)
application/pdf
Credit: Fielding Nair International
SOC Middle School Second Floor Plan and Furniture Layout (Registration required)
application/pdf
Credit: Fielding Nair International