St Sebastian’s Primary School
141 Kadumba Street, Yeronga, QLD, 4104
Elizabeth Watson Brown & Jaime Weber
Master Planned & staged construction of new learning, multi-purpose assembly & ancillary spaces for St Sebastian’s Primary School – an important community hub, sharing a small site with an original brick heritage protected Catholic church.
The St Sebastian’s project is designed around the principles of environmental & social sustainability.
In 1937, The Sisters of St Joseph taught the first class of 38 students in the heritage listed St Sebastian’s Chapel.
St Sebastian’s is still a small community primary school that provides high quality, innovative co-educational education for 200 students in 10 class groups from Prep through to Year 6.
The school required flexible spaces and contemporary learning places to replace existing small, outdated and inefficient structures.
The challenge was for a whole school design that opened up the school to innovative learning spaces supporting team teaching between classrooms and across year levels, fostering a strong sense of belonging to a family or community. While achieving this, the basic requirement of supervision and safety for the students, by a small number of staff, needed to be addressed.
The outcome of the three stages of work is very successful. The tuckshop, in the old ablutions block, connects the community and is positioned centrally in the school. It is the link between the history of the school and the new modern buildings. The classrooms are alive and active spaces that can be used for traditional or innovative teaching and learning. By ‘pushing’ the buildings to the boundaries of the site and having a ‘green’ heart as a play space, safety and staff supervision problems were solved. The entrances to the school are clear and the ‘traffic’ in the grounds is logical and flows, adding to the feeling of safety and belonging.
Architecture and lush gardens are conceptually and physically integrated as a biophilic continuum. Carefully chosen vegetation, most locally indigenous, provide shade both to buildings and people, reducing heat gain and providing cool outdoor educational and recreational zones throughout the site.
This project is a demonstration that it is possible with an integrated design approach and a very tight budget, to create comfortable, beautiful, environmentally responsible places in the subtropical urban context. Of added benefit to the school and community is that the design provides much more than the briefed spaces, with many flexible, robust and enduring spaces, shaded arcades, cloisters and generous undercover gathering spaces for learning, play and community activities