WMK Architecture has delivered a truly innovative approach to school design with its brand new learning and social space at the heart of Northern Beaches Christian School (NBCS) in Terrey Hills. The new educational facility is a world-class, open space designed to enable personal, authentic, and customised teaching.
“Our aim is to make learning deep, engaging, relevant and fun,” said Stephen Harris, NBCS Principal. “We wanted a building that will inspire our students.”
WMK’s design comprises a sequence of multi-level pavilion buildings beneath a spectacular 3,000 square metre intelligent living canopy which generates energy, harvests rainwater, and cools the spaces below.
Under the soaring 11 metre high canopy, classrooms are superseded by indoor and outdoor collaborative spaces, designed for multiple learning modes and non-hierarchical interaction.
“Our goal was to reinvent the notion of what a school building should be and create an environment that actively shapes a new culture for learning,” said Greg Barnett, Managing Director, WMK Architecture.
The pavilions accommodate interactive learning spaces, laboratories, student support facilities, and reception and administration. A separate canteen under a ‘treehouse’ seating platform forms the centrepiece.
Interestingly, WMK has designed a school environment using activity-based design principles usually developed for workspaces, with no restrictions on whether students or teachers use the space.
Balconies, seating nodes, oversized steps, and timber platforms are all wired for technology and allow for endless configurations beneath the canopy. The cafeteria creates a social meeting place and the outdoor stage and large screens complete the active, adaptable heart of the school.
“We’ve created an architecture of spaces – not just buildings – which define the heart of the school campus and lead the way for innovative learning in Australia and worldwide,” added Barnett.
The project is a highly successful collaboration of education and built environment vision, delivering a unique learning environment that identifies with the learning style of the next generation.