Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle recognised for its Excellence in Design

The Catholic Diocese of Maitland Newcastle's innovative design of St Bede's Catholic College has secured it a spot in the finals of a prestigious awards event.  

The Urban Development Institute of Australia's (UDIA) NSW division recently announced the Diocese as a finalist in its Excellence in Design category, with the winner to be announced in Sydney on 12 August. 


The award recognises excellence in design, and all entries are judged against stringent criteria that includes architecture and design, innovation, typologies and planning, community creation and integration and sustainability. 

Diocesan Chief Executive Officer, Sean Scanlon, said that St Bede's Catholic College, set within the Hunter Valley's new and growing suburb of Chisholm, is well-placed to take out the award. 

"The high calibre of the College's design reflects the Diocese's commitment to creating an education precinct that promotes modern learning and care for the environment. The collaborative efforts of Diocesan staff from various teams and SHAC architects made this vision a reality.

"These teams undertook extensive consultation with a diverse range of stakeholders during the project's conception, which I believe has added to the community's strong support for the College, which has had a waitlist for student enrolments since before its doors even opened," Mr Scanlon said. 

The full site masterplan for St Bede's Catholic College centres around four large buildings – 'pillars' - which traverse the site and connect via an organic form circulation spine called the Peregrine Trail. 

Construction of the College is well underway and expected to be fully complete by mid-2024. When finished, the College will provide education for up to 1,200 students across Years 7-12. It is the first and only secondary school in the suburb. 

The Diocese's Head of Property Services, Ray Bowen said sustainability, functionality, and a built form that positively engages with the local area significantly influenced the development's site layout, engineering innovations and use of materials. 

"The 14,228 m² development includes several engineering innovations, including the use of Aramax roofing, which provides a strong aesthetic statement and also accommodates mixed modality learning opportunities that align with modern and evolving teaching pedagogies." 

Principal of St Bede's Catholic College, John Murphy, said the building draws on innovative design principles to enrich students' learning experience and foster a celebration of their local environment. 

"The buildings have been designed to maximise the use of natural light and proximity to nature, as this is shown to support wellbeing. While we're only partway through the build, I have already witnessed the benefits of this approach. In addition, clear sightlines and multiple access points to the outdoors throughout the College enhance student learning, as our educators can readily reference the local ecosystem as part of their teaching." 

"We also love that there are no obstructive fence lines bordering the College's perimeter, which we have found also serves the design's intended purpose of encouraging students' interaction with the environment and community."

Regardless of the outcome at the awards night, the College's design already has the seal of approval from its student cohort, including Year 9 student, Chelsea Galpern-Fetterplace.  

"As a modern school, St Bede's offers so many great opportunities for students to learn, achieve and grow. We are fortunate to do this using state-of-the-art facilities, current technology and flexible learning environments," Chelsea said. 

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Lizzie Watkin Image
Lizzie Watkin

Lizzie is Team Leader Content for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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