St Monica’s Middle School
Winner Category 3 – Rennovation/Modernisation Over $1 million
20 Robinson Street Melbourne, Victoria 3019
Peter Clarke Photography
The Middle School represents the third step in a 2009 masterplan program and delivered the task of modernising an Edwardian school building.
Traditional classrooms with teacher’s platforms and blackboards were devoid of acoustic control or adequate storage and the area linking the classrooms was too wide for a corridor and too narrow for a learning space.
A strong heritage aesthetic contributed to the wider school precinct and the community’s emotional investment in the building’s history demanded a cautious approach.
Enlarging the floor-plate with a modern addition that defined the existing heritage fabric, focus was placed on reconfiguring the internal spaces to support the ‘Inquiry’ based learning pedagogy.
Adding to the challenges, valuable play space and community use limited expansion of the footprint, while an existing curve-walled toilet-block required integration into a new aesthetic.
Accommodating 170 students, an intentionally irregular floor plan provides a variety of spaces that feature large openings to achieve a highly porous learning environment. The overall transparency between spaces connects learners and creates a great sense of community with direct access to the three shared activity spaces.
Drawing a strong link between home and school, the kitchen facilities within the wet construction activity space provide the opportunity for cooking lessons and professional demonstrations.
Each demonstration table can accommodate groups of 60 students, teachers and parent helpers and was evident by a recent demonstration by celebrity Masterchef Callum Hann.
The purpose designed performance space, which also accommodates larger group assemblies, has tiered seating with concealed deep drawer storage for sports equipment.
High bandwidth IT infrastructure with wireless capability facilitates the transportability of the student’s multimedia devices.
A coordinators office, efficient staff work and resource space which also house specialist teachers and provide for small group collaborative activities.
The welcoming and warm material palette provides a serene backdrop to vibrantly coloured student works and furniture; deeper hues in combination with expansive glazing enhance transparency through the facility. The extensive pin-boards play a key role in the widespread acoustic treatment, applied to walls, floors and ceilings, which are essential in blended learning spaces. Large elliptical skylights with electronic blinds control natural daylight to the internal spaces.