Location: St Peters, NSW
Date Completed: 2000
Awards: Commendation – Public Buildings, RAIA NSW Chapter Architecture Awards, 2001
Photography: Tony Caro Architecture
The existing school buildings on this site were formed around a central, though under utilised courtyard. After lengthy consideration it was decided that the new facility should be sited within the courtyard, to place the symbolic center for secular learning at the heart of the school.
The genesis of the buildings circular plan form is found in Bramante’s Tempietto, although the issues of scale, program and materials/technology are clearly different.
A key strategy was to provide seamless connectivity between the surrounding verandahs and classrooms, to encourage children to use the Centre in a variety of relaxed, informal ways. This was achieved by bridge links to the upper surrounding verandahs, a high degree of visual permeability and versatile operable wall systems to obviate the thresholds between inside and outside spaces.
Bookcases and intimately scaled “reading nooks” around the perimeter of the main reading room are intended to be read as furniture rather than conventional walls within the spatial parameters of the courtyard.
Natural ventilation and solar protection have been carefully considered to ensure that the use of mechanical systems is minimised.