The annual Newcastle Architecture awards recognise some of the best new architecture the city has to offer. The awards announcement, held recently at the Merewether Surf House, also celebrates the successful outcome of positive collaboration and consultation between Newcastle and regional members and architects from across the state.
This year SHAC was named the winner of the Educational Architecture category for its design of the first stage of St Patrick’s newly-opened development.
The development, which will house Kindergarten and Year One classes, features individual learning spaces, a communal learning area and an outdoor learning space.
The flexible layout and playful features will help maximise student engagement and promote more complex and abstract thinking while also being responsive the varying needs and capabilities of students.
The open environment is aimed at encouraging collaborative learning as well as enabling students to ask questions and express their ideas. The new environment is also more conducive to building inclusive relationships between students and teachers and between the students themselves.
The development’s hub for teachers is where staff can collaborate, plan and share their programs. It will also be a ‘think tank’ venue which gives students a space where they can work together in groups, either independently or with a learning support assistant.
SHAC describes the contemporary space as a ‘pod’ design which differs from most traditional classroom layouts. It is aimed at giving students access to a world of opportunity and innovation, allowing them to develop all the necessary skills to succeed in learning and in life.
This ‘pod’ design will be replicated across the school, including in the Stage 2 development which will provide learning spaces for Years 2, 3 and 4.
“Creating physical and social learning environments has a positive impact on children’s learning, wellbeing, happiness and creativity,” said Education Officer for Early Learning at the Catholic Schools Office, Kim Moroney.
“When designing and establishing the Kindergarten and Year One classrooms at St Patrick’s, decisions were carefully made in relation to space, layout, air and light quality, fittings, furnishings and resources.”
Working closely with SHAC, St Patrick’s was able to provide an educational input throughout the design, planning and development phases, informing SHAC architects of the important necessities and variations required to satisfy student and staff needs.
“SHAC and the planning team from the Catholic Schools Office co-operated closely to ensure a quality result of which I am immensely proud,” said Principal of St Patrick’s, Jacqueline Wilkinson.
“The very talented team members from SHAC Architects and Christopher Vlatko were great to work with. Chris always challenged our thinking and helped us really explore and imagine what could be. He patiently listened to our concerns, interpreted our ideas and responded to the needs of our community.
“We look forward to the continued development at St Patrick’s to cater for the growing community who seek a faith-based education.”
Architectural photography by Alexander McIntyre