A $20 million refurbishment and extension of the historic Hermitage building at Melbourne’s Marcellin College – the first stage of a 10-year master plan led by project management consultants Montlaur – is now complete.
The project has created new educational possibilities for the 1400 students at the Catholic Marist boys’ school.
The redevelopment, completed on schedule for the beginning of the 2018 school year, provides for an additional 3000 square metres of innovative new education space, and encourages collaboration, socialisation and self-direction among the student cohort. It allows for a range of pedagogical approaches that just weren’t possible with the outdated and constrained classrooms of the original building, which was built when Marcellin opened in 1950.
The project involved a three-level extension, which includes a new central atrium, an adjoining teaching wing with a diverse range of learning environments, staff zones, and social spaces, and a dedicated Wurundjeri indigenous garden.
Marcellin College Principal Mark Murphy says the new facilities fit with the school’s educational philosophy.
“At Marcellin we are about developing flexible, independent, resilient and collaborative learners. Young men who not afraid to take risks in their learning, who are not afraid to fail, and who are creative and innovative in their approach,” Murphy says.
“Our new facilities stimulate and encourage these traits through creative architecture and the innovative use of materials, colour, shape, angle and space.”
Principal Murphy believes the new facilities, which emulate some of the developments found in the tertiary educational space, may contribute to students’ preparation for higher education.
“Our students appreciate the maturity of the new spaces they are engaging with and present themselves in kind,” he says.
The new classrooms are much enlarged and can open up to enable classes to join together. The spaces include reconfigurable furniture settings, workable wall surfaces and cutting-edge audiovisual equipment to provide for a variety of learning opportunities. The building also includes state-of-the-art science laboratories to keep pace with Australia’s need for STEM skills.
A number of breakout spaces facilitate collaboration and teamwork and one of these spaces, the central atrium, can also be used for presentations and events including parent meetings and the display of student works.
“The learning that is encouraged at Marcellin is as varied as the students themselves. Project- based, team-oriented and self-directed learning is encouraged, and often the teacher is the facilitator rather than just someone who provides information,” Murphy says.
“The development of the Hermitage project has transformed a restrictive, traditional classroom block into a vibrant, interactive, flexible and mature learning and community space that is sympathetic to the needs of contemporary learners.”
The Hermitage project, designed by COX Architecture and built by Kane Constructions, is only the first part of a major 10-year master plan, which is being directed by project management consultants Montlaur. The master plan is designed to unlock the school’s potential by developing clearly defined precincts and creating next-generation learning and social spaces.
Montlaur Senior Project Manager Emelie Watkinson says the master plan identified a preferred development strategy to enable Marcellin College to deliver its facilities in the most strategic, cost- effective and efficient manner.
“The process aligned the school’s vision, goals and objectives with the built form, providing the school community with a comprehensive document that will guide development through to 2025 and beyond,” Watkinson says.
During the Hermitage refurbishment and into the future, the master plan also reduces disruption by ensuring the maximum number of classrooms remain operational and the overall construction period is minimised for each project phase.
“We undertook extensive staging planning to maximise available classrooms and reduce disruption for students and staff, minimising the effects of working in a live environment,” says Watkinson.
COX Architecture’s Project Associate for Marcellin College, John Hayball, says that the work completed to date, as well as that outlined in the ongoing master plan, reflects wider developments in education.
“The new three-level annex and the refurbishment of the school’s existing foundation building provide spaces and places that prioritise student activity, movement and interaction. These will afford all students a much deeper learning experience and reflect developments in other educational institutions, including TAFE colleges and universities. In this way, they assist students to make the transition to further and higher education programs,” Hayball says.
Principal Murphy says the development will help Marcellin College continue to lead its field. “Education operates in a highly competitive and changing market place,” he says.
“Our parents know that physical facilities are but one of many elements that go into the making of a great school. Having said that, it is important that as education changes we respond not only through the development of sound pedagogical practice and cutting-edge curriculum development but also through the development of spaces in keeping with our ‘Village on a Hill’ vision, and which complement these other things. The new Hermitage and greater master plan make that possible.”
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