The CEFPI Australasian Awards program continues to grow, with 89 submissions from across the region and the introduction of a sixth category presented at this year’s conference at the National Convention Centre in Canberra. The Educational Landscapes / Outdoor Learning Area category recognises the importance of learning spaces outside the classroom and was awarded to Horsham Special School – Sensory Courtyard by Kneeler Design Architects and Jeavons Landscape Architects.

The Overall Winner was The Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences, The University High School by ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects.

This year’s Emerging Chapter Award Winner went to Victoria University of Wellington, Campus Hub and Library Upgrade by Athfield Architects and Architectus.
Conference delegates voted Claremont College by Terroir Architects as winner of the 2014 CEFPI Australasia Peoples Choice Award, acknowledging their playful use of  colour and design.

Peoples’ Choice Award

Claremont College
Terroir Architects

Since 2012 Terroir, SASC and Claremont College have been working together to revitalise old building stock on Claremont’s tightly constrained urban campus. Every building on the site is typically made up of two or three ages of building, in the most extreme case buildings are over 100 years old. This presents unique challenges in creating new active, engaging, vibrant and safe learning environments. Each building is analysed with a co-teaching, flexible open plan and technology driven pedagogy.

The two-storey Judge Street Building, or Stage 4 of the masterplan implementation, consists of two buildings constructed in the 1960s and extended in the early 2000s. Claremont College and SASC defined at the conception of the masterplan the key drivers for the refurbishment of all existing buildings on the site. This allowed a strategy to develop on all building projects whereby all of the disparate parts of the school could be formed into a coherent campus, which in turn creates a support structure for the enactment of the school’s key values: learn, life, light, love.

The existing planning was firmly based on the cellular classroom model with inefficient use of circulation and storage spaces. In analysing the existing floor plates two key factors were immediately apparent, the ground floor had 36sqm of circulation space or 20 per cent of potential floor space unusable as teaching space. The upper floor had 10sqm of storage rooms and an external balcony of 83sqm that could only be used as a teaching space in fair weather. Combined these two floors of the existing buildings had 20 per cent of unusable teaching space. With this information at hand and a collaborative discussion with Cantilever Engineers we were able to establish a floor plate that regained these unusable spaces for teaching simply through opening up the ground floor and enclosing the balcony of the upper floor.

The completion of the new spaces now means that all the K-6 groups have spaces that can function as open plan learning spaces with multiple teachers and classes working together collaboratively. This is a significant milestone for the school as it embarks on its journey towards co-teaching, open plan learning spaces that are driven by collaboration, inquiry and digital technologies.

Category 1
New construction, entire new school

Noosa Flexible Learning Centre
Fulton Trotter Architects

The Noosa Flexible Learning Centre for Edmund Rice Education Australia strives to create an alternative learning environment for disengaged and disenfranchised young people. The informal nature of the learning and gathering spaces provides a welcoming environment, while attempting to reinforce the Flexible Learning Centre Network’s ethos of ‘respect, participation, safe and legal and honesty’.

This ethos is reflected in the design through the strong focus on passive sustainable design principles, including a unique approach to site-based stormwater management through emulating the site’s natural hydrology, as well as significant ecological protection measures and the incorporation of sustainably sourced materials and conscious passive design. The design team and client considered these principles critical in instilling such ideals in the users of the spaces. All of this was achieved without adding to the overall project cost.

The site had significant ecological constraints (including native flora, fauna and bushfire issues) that required a consolidated response from the architects and consultant team (avoid, mitigate, offset) in order to retain significant groves of vegetation.

The arrangement of the buildings across the site avoids protected vegetation zones, and references the ‘beach shack’ typology of the area. The raised pavilion structures and boardwalks attempt to ‘touch the ground lightly’, while providing a relaxed and informal atmosphere. The pavilions all have a strong reference to the outdoors through large openings onto verandas (functioning as breakout learning spaces) and the natural environment.
Sustainable resource material choices such as plantation grown plywood, oriented strand board and Paperock bench tops were chosen to create a predominantly raw and natural palette. Colour is introduced through various panelling, sunshades and acoustic fabric material to spark interest and encourage playfulness within the campus.
The project succeeds in delivering the client’s brief for an alternative, informal and non-institutional education facility that is welcoming to the young people who have hitherto shunned the notion of ‘school.

Jury citation
The Noosa Flexible Learning Centre has been designed to provide a responsive and welcoming learning environment for young people who have not experienced success or inclusion in the regular school system. The need to create an ethos of engagement with the outside environment and the absence of rigid containment has been met through sensitivity to and protection of the existing flora and fauna, and the choice of connected airy pavilions in a village like configuration to emphasise community, responsibility and care.

The scale and design of these buildings and site appear ideal for the intended purpose.  Consultation, program development and evaluation processes are exemplary and there is positive attention to sustainability.
This is a remarkably appropriate response to a brief that deals with a complex and difficult educational context.

Aldinga Beach Children’s Centre
Department for Education and Child Development

Jury citation
The Aldinga Beach Children’s Centre was designed to respond to the early childhood education and care needs of children of this community by providing education and allied health services for wellbeing and family support. The emphasis on inclusiveness and openness is addressed through the use of ‘see through’ spaces and great use of natural light. The children’s play areas reflect the beach theme of the locality. The use of natural materials and a gentle palette is entirely refreshing and privileges colour through people and objects. The community involvement in the design, and the active use of evaluation is impressive.
By addressing playful ideas, using a local theme and incorporating sustainable materials this centre appears to be more than appropriate for the community it serves. It looks like a joyful place to be.

Our Lady of the Southern Cross Primary School
Baldasso Cortese Architects

Jury citation
Our Lady of the Southern Cross Primary School has been designed to create exemplary harmony between the pedagogical intent and the physical environment. The focus of the curriculum is on engaging students at their current level of capability and working to advance their learning from there with reference to learning not age. Further, the school has espoused a personalised pedagogy that emphasises individual responsibility for learning. In response to these intentions the design encompasses variety, accessibility and versatility of learning spaces allowing all students, including those with special needs, to match choice of physical space to their current learning, and for teachers to foster this connection in their facilitation roles.

ESD has been attended to in interesting and visible ways so that it generates learning for the children as well as energy saving.

This is a great design response, the University of Melbourne research has been utilised and the outcome is an integrated and flexible learning environment supporting multiple nuances of children’s learning progress.

Category 2
New construction, major facility

Brighton Grammar Middle School
ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects

The design of Brighton Grammar School’s new Middle School reinforces the School’s mission, ‘we teach boys’ through providing a robust and iconic facility that supports the School’s targeted approach to the diverse learning needs of boys in Years 7 and 8.

Situated to the edge of the most public corner of the site, the new Middle School features a clean, modernist exterior and striking, double height public entry to shape a welcoming interface with the street and to reinforce the School’s civic presence. Transparent sections to the exterior invite the gaze of the local community and promote engagement with the activities of the school.

The 6060 sqm new facility is planned around a central Nexus where the whole student community can come together. The learning environments have been designed as a series of four Learning Neighbourhoods, each accommodating 75 students, connected to and focused upon the Nexus. The learning commons are oversized to allow boys to move freely while they work as boys benefit greatly from having room to move. The pedagogically bespoke learning environments provide a variety of formal and informal learning spaces that are adaptable and agile to support diverse modes of teaching and learning. The learning spaces enable students to set up impermanent groups for discussion and problem solving and provide ease of access to technology and information to enhance cooperative learning.

Intended as a physical manifestation of the needs and nature of boys, the architectural expression of the Middle School is inherently masculine and modernist. It features wide circulation areas, robust, natural materials, and an abundance of natural light and ventilation. A sophisticated, minimalist approach to the interior design emphasises the physical presence of the architectural form and signals a move away from the childhood years of primary school into the adult world. The openness of the learning environment promotes a sense of community and encourages students to actively engage with their learning.

The new Middle School provides a dynamic new learning facility that nurtures collaboration, celebrates the student’s transition into secondary school and represents an innovative new direction for Brighton Grammar School.

Jury citation
Standing alongside a historic church hall the recently completed Brighton Grammar Middle School makes a bold statement. Its imposing entrance sits directly on the streetscape and features soaring expanses of glass softened by the introduction of natural timber. It is an inviting yet spectacular entry. It leads you in to a light filled space, which has a pleasing sense of height and scale.  ClarkeHopkinsClarke has taken full advantage of the opportunity to create a diverse and creative array of learning spaces. The more formal seminar and teaching spaces give way to reading and withdrawal spaces; creative spaces where project and team work is promoted.

A sweeping timber staircase adds drama to the space and provides a central meeting point for students. The extensive use of timber softens the interior and draws the eye to the upper story balconies and learning spaces. It is an effective way to introduce a level of curiosity into the building.

The introduction of four learning communities breaks open the traditional teaching model and introduces a classroom setting where collaboration is king. Spaces are generous with the architects allowing up to 50 per cent more space than a traditional classroom setting in order to allow the boys plenty of room to move.

The building blends seamlessly into the surrounding environment and the interplay between the classroom setting and the freedom to work and play outdoors is a highlight of this design.  In this way, the definition within spaces is further blurred with a stand out feature being the boys’ capacity to study botany on the first floor outdoor terrace garden. Robust outdoor furniture features the use of timber, concrete and bluestone and these otherwise harsh building materials blend neatly into the landscape.

It is pleasing to see the emphasis that has been placed on environmentally sustainable design including: energy efficient lighting, a fully integrated building management system, natural ventilation-featuring the use of louvres and Big Ass fans as well as 60,000 litres of water storage.

The benefits of a lengthy consultation process are obvious with the project team successfully creating a creative, technology rich learning environment.
A fully formed Masterplan, complemented by visits to exemplar projects and added depth through the input of educational consultant Brian Caldwell has paid off handsomely with the construction of a well thought out and flexible learning environment.

Architects ClarkeHopkinsClarke have certainly given expression to Brighton Grammar’s desire to “define what boys need to become successful young men.”

O’Regan Arts and Cultural Common
Monte Sant’Angelo Mercy College
Brewster Hjorth Architects

Jury citation
This outstanding project was conceived as an active learning centre for the students and staff at the Monte Saint Angelo Mercy College, to promote and showcase their performance arts based creativity and to allow access and use by the broader community.

The master planning for the project was undertaken over many years. Due to the constrained nature of the site, the building provides much of its accommodation below ground, under a new open green space, which connects with surrounding heritage buildings and opens up a new entry into the school heart.

The project brief included a 300-person theatre with flat floor stage, multi-use teaching and learning spaces and a range of smaller studios spaces that can be transformed into ensemble rooms. The tall foyer space acts as a thermal chimney for natural ventilation to all spaces.

User comments noted that the facility represents 21st century learning in the broadest sense and provides the College with a real-life opportunity for the school and the community to engage, celebrate and collaborate.

Teachers are able to use the flexible learning spaces in new and exciting ways. Students have a sense that there is now a home for celebrating the importance of performance arts at the school.

The design quality of the finished building impressed the Awards jurors and has exceeded the original expectations of the College. The result is an outstanding facility which was highly commended.

St John the Apostle Primary School, Stage 1
Baldasso Cortese Architects

Jury citation
Situated on the fringe of Melbourne’s western growth corridor, and established to provide young and migrant families with a community school, St John The Apostle does more than deliver an education, it strives to create a community hub for students and their extended families. Illustrating their commitment to these values, the main entry is equipped with a community kitchen in which everyone is welcome to participate in the rituals associated with the preparation and sharing of meals.

In designing the learning spaces considerable attention has been given to accommodating flexibility, without sacrificing variety. This is achieved through a mix of multi-function and activity based spaces that are connected to outside learning spaces via collapsible boundaries. Students and staff, have access to quiet, collaborative and participatory learning spaces, both inside and outside. And whilst careful attention has been given to matters pertaining to duties of care, this has not been done with a heavy hand, which is laudable, for recent studies show that where the built environment either communicates, or is co-opted to facilitate pejorative observation – rather than attentive care –  hopes for creating convivial learning spaces are often thwarted.

The project team are to be commended for their inclusive, innovative translation of a forward thinking educational brief that is environmentally sympathetic, facilitates the delivery of a connected curriculum without dehumanising the environment, and mitigates some of the challenges associated with open learning through design and the selection of materials.

Victoria University of Wellington
Campus Hub and Library Upgrade
Athfield Architects / Architectus

Jury citation
The Campus Hub and Library Upgrade project at Victoria University of Wellington by Athfield / Architectus has transformed what was previously an inhospitable and windswept quad into a true heart to Kelburn Campus, an active, vibrant and engaging central space with a strong sense of place.

The project comprises the refurbishment of three existing buildings, a new Hub building and landscaped courtyard. The design not only reflects new thinking in library design but has also contributed positively to the overall campus experience and connectivity. The new Hub is placed between the existing buildings, repairing edges and reactivating connections to create a high quality student experience and focal point for the Kelburn Campus, around which social and learning activities can revolve.

Through a few simple yet insightful design moves, the design team has overcome the various project challenges (topography, poor connectivity etc.) and achieved an elegant and successful space for learning, community interaction and intellectual exchange.

Category 3
Renovation / modernisation over $2 million

Froebel Learning Centre
Steffen Welsch Architects

We teamed up with not-for-profit Froebel Australia to build Froebel’s first early learning centre and kindergarten in Melbourne. Sharing the same site as partners Deutsche Schule Melbourne, the German English bilingual school in North Fitzroy, inner Melbourne, the new Froebel centre offers childcare to 66 children from six weeks to five years.
Our brief was to repurpose former school buildings into an engaging and unique learning environment for young children and their educators and to create a communal hub for the German-Australian community.

The design approach centres on ‘rooms within rooms’, creating a diverse variety of intimate nooks and multipurpose environments for play, reading and art. The centre includes a play pod and even a racing track!
Alongside the whimsical, the design provides a superior solution for the hard-working practicalities of running a busy centre. The centre features a teaching kitchen for food education, ample storage, and durable, low-toxic materials. Improved thermal performance is achieved through appropriate internal planning, retrofitting insulation and new double glazed doors and windows.

Sustainability is carried through to the outdoor environment. The garden, designed by Christina Silk, Silk Consulting Landscape Architects and Alexandra Gaunt, Lightbox 3D, features a kitchen garden, a shared entry with the Deutsche Schule to encourage meeting and mingling, and a giant slide whizzing from first floor straight into the playground.

Purpose built areas provide educator training facilities for the Stiftung Haus der Kleinen Forscher ‘Little Scientists’ program Froebel is bringing to Melbourne.

Jury citation
The Froebel Early Learning Centre in North Fitzroy shows a successful transformation of a two-storey former administration building within a constrained site into a vibrant and spatially complex place with excellent facilities for little children.

Froebel Australia’s vision of a child-centred and play-based learning environment in unity with nature has been successfully interpreted in this project. The beautifully detailed two-storey play pod, the intimate nooks and raised platforms prove to be not only spatially and visually aesthetic, but also cleverly turn mere building regulations into fun and functional elements. The varieties of spaces provided create a colourful, warm and light filled atmosphere and are complemented by a natural and playful outdoor space.

The thorough implementation of environmental principles, the use of sustainable and natural materials and the thermal upgrade of the existing building all add to the holistic design approach of this project.

Congratulations to Steffen Welsch Architects on their highly inspiring, witty and child focussed design and thoughtfully detailed project.

Margaret Ames Centre – Immanuel College
Swanbury Penglase Architects

Jury citation
The Margaret Ames Centre entry by Swanbury Penglase Architects exhibited robust pre design planning and comprehensive educational specifications.

Site development was well managed and the facility was so located to give excellent presentation to Immanuel College.

Educational needs were well catered to, thus providing an exciting variety of learning spaces that support a 21st century learner.

The final design is outstanding both externally and internally and the design team are to be congratulated on this wonderful facility.

Category 4
Renovation / modernisation under $2 million

Year 3/4 Neighborhood
Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School
Centrum Architects Pty Ltd

Jury citation
This simple renovation and minor expansion that delivers a contemporary learning environment able to support student-centred learning for a three class group of students. It is a cost effective project incorporating sustainability principles that reuses existing spaces to best advantage. The project was preceded by an impressive master planning process, including consultation undertaken with a wide group.

This was a big transformation with a minimal budget, nicely demonstrated in before and after shots showing the creation of an airy and new sense of light and space.

Kahurangi School
Stephenson & Turner

Jury citation
Kahurangi School is the outcome of the amalgamation of two schools with their disparate traditions into one school that honours multiple identities and responds to the needs of modern learning for children. This was a complex task with the possibility of dissention and a sense of dislocation for children and families. A further issue was the need to meet standards for the new seismic safety requirements.

The school design has been planned and implemented with courage, imagination and respect for both the groups associated with the previous two schools, the multi-ethnic demographic that is a cross cutting theme in both the old and new school and demands of 21st century learning. There has been clever reuse of the existing school site incorporating contemporary and sustainable materials to reinvent a school. The new school has opened up its learning spaces to allow whole of school visibility and connectedness, included variable spaces for individuals and groups, ubiquitous, accessible IT and incorporated local artwork to signal its identities.

Category 5
Education initiative / design solution for an innovative program

Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences
The University High School
ClareHopkonsClarke Architects

Project overview
The Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences is designed to support diverse modes of teaching and learning across all of the sciences for 200 University High School students in Years 11 and 12.

Developed via a collaborative partnership between University High School, The University of Melbourne, Bio21 Institute, Melbourne Graduate School of Education and the Melbourne School of Engineering, this 1400sqm facility provides students with a unique tertiary-style learning environment.

This facility sits at the nexus of secondary education, tertiary education and tertiary research, not only providing the space and resources to pursue education within mathematics and science but encouraging student exploration and peer driven development. An extensive planning process was undertaken with The University High School, The University of Melbourne and The Bio21 Institute to develop a curriculum, learning environment and pedagogy that exposes students to the foremost discoveries and innovations, and facilitates tertiary research and understanding of learning methodologies. Located in Melbourne’s premier science precinct and in close proximity to significant heritage listed structures, the School was designed to respect and respond to the historical context whilst referencing the science focus through materiality and form. The building captures the advantages of the site’s northerly aspect through the introduction of a double-height, glazed void space that connects the ground and first floors, and ensures communal spaces are awash with natural light. Characterised by strong geometric forms, quirky design features, and dedicated facilities to support the School’s unique pedagogical approach as the building acts as a physical ‘text book’, guiding the learning experiences within. The facility also supports teacher’s continual learning and development through the integration of a video recording system that records classes to better understand teaching methods that are most effective, allowing teachers and Master students to utilise the school as a pedagogical laboratory.

The project attracted a government pilot program grant for development of a direct geothermal energy system. Utilising the grant, the architectural design team collaborated with the system designers from The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Engineering to integrate the direct geothermal energy system within the building. This system maintains the air temperature at a suitable level in all seasons and as a result, minimal additional artificial heating and cooling is required amounting in huge savings for the operation of the building, and reducing the buildings running costs by an estimated 96 per cent.

Jury citation
The Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences initiative has enabled ClarkeHopkinsClarke to incorporate a new science rich learning environment for talented senior secondary students on the campus of the University of Melbourne and University High School. It provides excellent transition opportunities between school, tertiary studies and research.
Thorough and well documented planning and consultation resulted in strong working relationships that enabled the realisation of a design reflective of the school’s vision, the integration of the geo thermal energy system and the successful resolution of design heritage requirements.

The provision of a variety of spaces responds to the diverse needs of students to collaborate or work alone, to work inside the building or use the effectively linked outdoor spaces. The colour palette and furnishings are comfortable, functional and support the mature approach to learning.

ClarkeHopkinsClarke are to be congratulated on their inclusive and collaborative approach to design that has culminated in highly desirable spaces for students to follow their passions.

NSW Aboriginal Child and Family Centres
NSW Government Architects Office

Jury citation
The Aboriginal Childcare Centre submission illustrated comprehensive pre-design planning and a robust educational specification. The site development in unique settings catered to the local culture and needs of each location and reinforced environmental needs sympathetically.

Educational needs were fulfilled as well as recognition of local community needs. Thorough attention was given to interior fit-out and furniture to support learning effectively. The learning nooks provide exciting spaces for activities and add to the overall design.

The external presentation and integration of outdoor spaces fits well with the total environment.
The finished form of each centre warrants congratulation of the NSW Government Architect’s Office in designing and delivering exciting centres for Early Childhood Education in remote locations.

Category 6
Educational landscape / outdoor learning area

Horsham Special School – Sensory Courtyard
Kneeler Design Architects
Jeavons Landscape Architects

Project overview
The Sensory Courtyard at the Horsham Special School was designed by Jeavons Landscape Architects, who collaborated with Kneeler Design Architects (responsible for the design of the new school). The school landscape and outdoor play areas were designed after close engagement and consultation with the special school staff.
We wanted to create landscape experiences that stimulate, educate and evoke the senses. Our design solutions engage children with a range of physical and intellectual abilities, individual special needs, varying social skills and levels of sensory integration, including children on the autism spectrum.

As a central and focal space in the school, the sensory courtyard has many functions:
• A strong visual element and orientation point for the school
• A quiet seating/respite area
• An outdoor teaching and learning area
• A space for lunch time seating
• A seating and meeting place for staff and parents
• Indoor/outdoor social gatherings and functions
• A circulation route for students and staff moving between indoor spaces.
Above all of these, however, the space was designed to provide a highly sensory space to meet the specific needs of the children who have a variety of disabilities, and in particular for children on the autism spectrum.

Jury citation
The Sensory Courtyard at Horsham Special School, designed by Jeavons Landscape Architects in collaboration with Kneller Design and the school community was developed to enhance the student independence and celebrate their diverse abilities.

The courtyard provides a beautiful and safe environment for social interaction. Students of all ages, parents and visitors from the wider community gather here to socialise, engage and learn.

In developing the courtyard the architects worked with therapists and other staff to create a space which would provide a calming effect on the behaviour of children by utilising texture, colours, scent and sounds in addition to spatial variety, thermal properties and movement.

The success of the courtyard is summed up by an extract from the school’s principal in a supporting letter where she states: “We have another 15-year-old student with Autism who is a selective mute. She had previously never spoken at any school she attended. Through the use of the sensory courtyard she has come out of her shell and spoken for the first time, blossoming to answering questions and initiating speech to staff and others at the school.

Emerging Chapter Award

Victoria University of Wellington
Campus Hub and Library upgrade
Athfield Architects / Architectus

Overall Regional Award

Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences
The University High School
ClareHopkonsClarke Architects