CLIENT DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
ARCHITECT NSW GOVERNMENT ARCHITECT
LOCATION HARBORD, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
BUILDER LAHEY CONSTRUCTIONS
FROM THE SPECIFIER
Several years ago the Department of Education embarked on a journey to fully engage with current pedagogy. The Department is party to The Association for Learning Environments – a think tank of education and design professionals promoting a major shift in pedagogy and learning environments from teacher focussed learning to team teaching, project based learning and collaborative teaching. This has resulted in a strong push for innovation in school design. A greater reliance on technology means that students and teachers are now no longer restricted to a front to blackboard environment but are free to work in the best suited locations for the task at hand.
Harbord Public School is one of a suite of school projects which the NSW Government Architects Office designed and documented before it was closed in June 2016.
This school has one of the largest student populations in the state, exceeding 1000 pupils.
The new three storey building replaces 19 demountables on a very restricted site creating increased outdoor play areas and opportunities for outdoor learning spaces.
A new double storey library is included suspended over a generous COLA which acts as a gateway to the playing grounds below.
Harbord is one of the first public schools to develop an environment which includes individual classrooms which can all be opened to each other as well as to a generous learning common via large multi stacking sliding glass doors.
The interior finishes and fittout have been designed to enhance the new pedagogical approaches. Each floor includes 6 classrooms, 2 opening onto the reading nook areas, 4 opening onto the learning common and two generous shared practical activities areas. Classrooms on the upper two levels also open to external balconies. The practical activities areas variably open to group rooms or generous verandahs. Storage is located behind sliding whiteboard walls and in shared store rooms The inclusion of multi-function rooms off the practical activities areas creates opportunities for designated project work as well as teacher meeting areas. The floors are differentiated by colour scheme. The emphasis is on openness and visual connection. Furniture, colours and finishes have been used to define differentiated learning areas within each floor.
The classroom fittout allows for various teaching spaces, areas for team work, presentation and quiet reflection in seating nook areas.
The project reflects not only the direction of the client department but also the commitment and aspirations of what has been a very forward thinking school community.
Business Interiors became involved in the project at the tender stage, once Lahey Constructions was appointed the contract as builder our single source proposition of not only supplying furniture, but also the interactive whiteboards helped to secure the project. Our key role in this project was to ensure the furniture and technology was supplied to the required timeline, it was important the building was functional for the start of the 2017 school year.
Additionally, attention to detail around quality and placement was key particularly given the furniture was not limited to traditional classroom furniture. It included some of the innovative pieces shown like Grassy domes, Plektrum tables, the Campfire booths and bookcases, and Crashmats from NorvaNivel.
The result was an innovative fitout allowing for new methods of agile learning, in an adaptable and beautiful space. The architectural elements worked well with the furniture elements, allowing plenty of natural light through an abundance of windows to a variety of learning spaces, from breakout spaces with a mixture of reading nooks, moveable ottomans and lounging furniture. Classrooms with a variety of purposes from the traditional to practical activity areas for arts and crafts, multi-functional and collaborative spaces.
The result saw teaching staff surprised and delighted at the innovation and flexibility they had been afforded. Talking some of the staff through how the furniture worked and how they could interact with it while they were setting up their classrooms in the week prior to school returning, their excitement and intrigue at having such a different and innovative learning environment to what they were used to in traditional classrooms was a joy to watch.