Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

Northern Beaches Christian School, Terrey Hills, Australia

Exemplary design categories: art and design facilities, energy efficiency, flexible learning settings, integrated services, music and theatre facilities, outdoor spaces, technology rich, vocational facilities

How the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
The school was conceived, designed and constructed around a vision of creating a fully flexible learning space that shifts pedagogical practice toward a collaborative inquiry based model. Spaces to expand and contract through operable walls and the differentiation of volumes within the building envelope allows a very wide range of accommodation for different group sizes and functions. These range from several hundred people in performance mode to multiple small groups of a few people in interactive/collaborative modes. The school was designed as a well-resourced and inspiring space for teachers to effectively integrate ICT into pedagogy. Specialised educators are on hand to work with teachers and to provide support and coaching through the journey of change. The building emphasises the critical importance of positive social relationships between all participants. This is achieved by the design of circulation with break-out spaces, nooks related to larger spaces and changes of scale of space. The planning recognises the importance of outside spaces and in particular the transition and link spaces between buildings where a great deal of social interaction, play and educational activity takes place. The materials, form and proportions were carefully considered to create a contemporary and progressive image for the school. The use of natural light and surrounding fenestration creates connectivity with the external environment that encourages a sense of integration with the natural world. External colours are muted silver, greys and blues with flashes of colour in the windows reflecting those seen in the Australian natural environment. The building incorporates contemporary environmentally sustainable design principles throughout, with fully automated mixed mode ventilation systems, recycled and low carbon footprint material use and high efficiency low energy use. The building fabric and operation itself works as an educational tool.

Involvement of users and the local community in the planning and design process:
There was broad range of consultation with the main users during the development process. In addition the following groups were consulted: local Aboriginal elders; local sporting and interest groups; groups concerned with the conservation of native flora and fauna.

Activity Areas: The school is composed of the Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning (SCIL), Marina Prior Centre and Beaches Café Classroom. Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning (SCIL) building: open flexible learning spaces with floor to ceiling screen, internet kiosks, interactive whiteboards; technology immersion space; dispersed library collection; formal and informal meeting spaces; semi-outdoor space with vertical garden; internal mini-amphitheatre; external learning spaces/courtyard/plaza; one traditional classroom space; senior study area; IT office; multi-purpose music and performance area; and flexible performance, rehearsal and learning space for 800 for ensembles, large band, and dance and theatre production (the main body of the centre and stage convert to separate learning spaces: the Space, Playhouse Theatre Classroom, the Globe Theatre and the Dance Studio – each with separate audio/video capability). There is an adjacent terrace which can serve as an outdoor stage area, increase seating capacity or providing informal meeting and refreshment area. The training space for small ensembles and music tuition rooms also serve as back stage and dressing rooms for performances. The stage area has a timber sprung floor can convert into a dance studio with large mirror panels, training space for small ensembles, music tuition rooms. The Beaches Cafe Classroom: A food technology/hospitality facility combining learning spaces with a dual function of catering and serving food during performances events. There is a fully flexible layout for theory and practical learning. Scribbly Gum Preschool Kindergarten: External play and gathering space, which is the undercroft area of the Marina Prior Centre, located in the heart of the school.

Project costs: AUD 12,300,000.00

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

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Images (5)

Drawings (4)

West and South East Elevations (Registration required)
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Credit: Malone Campbell-Allen (MCA)
First floor, Ground Floor and Lower Ground Floor plans (Registration required)
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Credit: Malone Campbell-Allen (MCA)
Location Plan (Registration required)
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Credit: Malone Campbell-Allen (MCA)
Furniture Floor Plan (Registration required)
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Credit: Malone Campbell-Allen (MCA)