St Catherine’s Senior School Redevelopment
Croxon Ramsay Architects
Commendation Category: 3 Renovation Modernisation over $2m
17 Heyington Place, Toorak 3142
This project for St.Catherine’s School can be thought of as two quite separate projects. One dealing directly with the interface to the teaching environment, the other somewhat peripheral to the core activity of teaching, yet both interventions have had a significant effect on the campus environment and a positive influence on the spaces that support teaching.
The project intervenes to improve the spatial connectivity and social dynamics of the campus, identifying and improving on weaknesses in the functioning of the school community resulting from the pre-existing arrangement of programme. The additions to the existing buildings are at once instructional and functional. They illustrate a change in educational values, elegantly accommodating changes in practice with reference to the old through the provision of informal transition and breakout spaces.
The judicious re-use of the existing built fabric preserves and celebrates the past, while re-purposing and re-imaging the remainder into a cohesive whole. The new areas provide an active and permeable edge that mediates between the formal teaching and library spaces and the larger campus. This zone of transition becomes the ‘main street’ of the building, which has been shaped and furnished to facilitate a variety of learning assemblages and facilitate circulation. The articulation, scale and materiality of the façade, while contemporary, are sympathetic to the heritage context. Overtime the weathering of timbers and the growth of vegetation will further soften this relationship and embed the project in the site.
With a clear focus on the need to balance competing learning needs – collaboration and reflection – in common spaces. This project provides an excellent example of how the carful shaping of the built environment can facilitate the transition from teacher to student centred learning in well established learning communities.
This project for St.Catherine’s School, located in Melbourne’s inner east, can be thought of as two quite separate projects. One dealing directly with the interface to the teaching environment, the other somewhat peripheral to the core activity of teaching, yet both interventions have had a significant effect on the campus environment and a positive influence on the spaces that support teaching.
The first project was to refurbish an agglomeration of separate buildings, built by the school for various uses and over several decades, which had been gradually stitched together to form the Senior School. The challenge was to provide an architectural response which upgraded the classrooms, brought order to the circulation and also created a cohesive ‘whole’. All without spending vast sums by altering the existing building structurally. To achieve this, a new unifying skin has been applied across the building fronts.
Externally the new skin has been richly detailed in a palette of warm hued brick and natural timbers, used primarily as an armature for deciduous planting to shelter new deck spaces and as a screening device to the new centrally located office spaces, whilst also responding to the rich detail of the adjacent campus buildings.
The Mary Davis Centre forms the second component to the project. This building, an exercise in pure geometries with its squat, square base and tall pyramid roof, had gradually been overtaken by the IT department from it’s original purpose as a centre for International studies. As part of a general exploration for the school into its facilities, the proposal was made to clear the building out completely and make it the new home for a poorly positioned and failing café.