The school at the end of the rainbow

The school at the end of the rainbow from Derek Raithby Architecture (DRA)

By: Derek Raithby Architecture (DRA)  04-Jan-2012
Keywords: Architecture, Building Design, Architect


The Commonwealth Government's Building the Education Revolution (BER) programme motivated the School to move forward its plans for expansion, fulfilling crucial needs for additional classrooms, library together with music and art rooms. 

A number of options for expansion of the School building and playgrounds were considered well before the advent of the BER program, including options to purchase adjoining parcels of land; reconfiguration of areas and uses within the current curtilage amongst others. Following the examination it was resolved to increase the bulk on the upper levels within the 'L' shaped footprint to accommodate additional classrooms, library, music room and ancillary facilities. Other core elements of the brief included site and building accessibility and refurbishment of the existing ground floor including lobby and main entry. 

The aims and objectives of the design brief included the need to ameliorate and enrich the School environment primarily for the children that inhabit the space; to adaptively reuse the school building while having minimal impact on the heritage significance of the adjoining Church and hall complex and its setting, bringing together a history of renovations into a cohesive aesthetic. The adapted building should respect and retain the heritage significance of the group while adding a contemporary layer that provides value for the future. 

Project Relevance & Complexity

As the existing school was out dated being built in the 1960's, it was important to bring the architectural aesthetic into the modern day and in turn create a vibrant space for the students to explore. This was achieved by simplifying the forms and sheathing the expanded building with a contemporary fa├žade of pre-finished panels and windows. The resulting form is iconic in nature drawing interest from pedestrian traffic through its colourful 'building block' design. The exterior appearance was translated internally by integrating furniture in line with the external 'building block's and window openings. 

As the School plays a major role in the community by providing areas for community use, spaces were required to be multi-functional to allow a number of uses including book fairs, ballet, fates, musicals amongst many other activities. This included spatial reconfiguration of playgrounds to make efficient use of the spaces available and provide a setting for the building. 

Throughout the building existing technology was replaced with efficient modern systems that reduced energy consumption and provided interaction for the school children. The Wahroonga School is nestled in a highly significant State heritage listed group of buildings. This required close collaboration with the Heritage Branch of the Department of Planning to seek approval of the contemporary design so that it suited the setting and provided a long lasting solution for the site.

Keywords: Architect, Architectural and Building Design Services, Architectural Design, Architecture, Building Design, Building Designer, Design & Drafting, Floor Plans

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