The Mercy Centre, Catholic College Wodonga
No 42 Architects with Engaging Spaces
Bowman Ct Wodonga, VIC 3747 Australia
The re-imagining of an existing technology centre into a new contemporary senior student learning ecology. Over three levels the centre caters to all learning modalities with a range of different learning settings interlinked with a promenade space that enables students to flow freely between environments.
The principle focus of No. 42 Architects during the design process for the Mercy Centre was to understand the social and learning culture of senior year students and staff. This process culminated in a design that fully supports the variety of learning needs experienced by a senior student during the final years of college life. A range of spaces were created including:
- Two didactic teaching spaces,
- Two group learning studios
- An innovative group learning space
- A short term delivery area
- Two seminar rooms
- Open team booths
- Four incubator enclosed pods
- A silent study area
- A library node
- Three accessible staff zones
- Open support staff stations
- Incidental meeting points
- Kitchenette, toilets, and relaxation areas
These areas are linked by a fluid promenade zone that encourages accidental interactions. Open staff spaces are part of the community fully supporting the senior students. An innovative group work space was developed to be highly inventive with curtains and hinged whiteboard walls to allow rapid spatial manipulation. A staged area, data projection, soft large couches, a lying platform, and walls of whiteboard together with only four mobile high tables complete the interactive space.
The overall arrangement enables teachers and students to freely move within the centre to find the environment that best supports their teaching and learning. Spaces are planned to be bookable rather than operating with a fixed timetable. Flexibility is achieved through polyvalence, transformability, and fluidity.
Quality materials are used to respect the students, the colouring reflects a corporate feel with flashes of strong colour, and the lighting provides a range of moods. Tiered seating for short term delivery is semi enclosed with a shear and a heavy curtain creating an intimate theatrette when closed and a space to present to the whole 180 student cohort when open.
There are a number of booths that encourage open collaborative group work with TV monitors for laptop connection and soundtube audio technology that limits sound to the booth table. The acoustics was modelled during the design stage to ensure appropriate levels of noise which is borne out in the final building which has a gentle ‘pedagogical hum’.