Future-focused learning prepares students with skills and capabilities to thrive in the modern and globalised world. It is the key objective of the NSW Department of Education’s vision and underscored the design of DesignInc’s new campus building at Killara Public School.
Teachers need to be proficient in many modes of teaching and learning to be effective in the delivery of future-focused learning. This includes collaboration, demonstration, experiential, guided and independent – all of which require students and teachers to interact differently within their built and natural environment. Killara Public School engaged DesignInc in association with Lacoste + Stevenson Architects to design a new campus building that supports these various modes of learning through flexible, multi-use, indoor and outdoor learning spaces. It is a welcoming and inclusive environment, designed to help build community, identity and a sense of belonging.
DesignInc designed a simple and cost-effective two-storey building with eight classrooms (or homebases), two generous covered outdoor learning areas, an elevator and associated support spaces. Wanting to retain as much open green space as possible, DesignInc located the building on largely unused, leftover land where it provides a new and distinctive gateway from Ridgeland Road. Colourful signage identifies the building and school, and the entrance provides a covered breezeway into the campus, with brightly coloured graphics of animals and a ruler on the interior wall.
DesignInc and Lacoste + Stevenson developed the building design based on NSW Department of Education principles and in close dialogue with user group representatives. Contemporary, sustainable and stimulating learning spaces are focused on the needs of diverse learners and teaching styles. Adaptable facilities can be reconfigured for multipurpose uses and future changing needs. Indoor and outdoor spaces are seamlessly connected, and passive solar design maximises environmental sustainability, thermal comfort and reduces energy use.
Ground-floor learning spaces are located along the northern edge of the building to receive all-day light and have sliding glass doors that open directly to an outdoor learning space. The external circulation path on the northern side is under cover, and external slats block the high summer sun while allowing low winter sun to filter inside. Children are prevented from climbing over the balustrade by mesh screens that also offer views of the campus from within the upper-level terraces and outdoor learning areas.
First-floor rooms also open to outdoor learning spaces with generous roof overhangs to protect against summer sun and driving rain. An array of photovoltaic panels on the roof harness solar energy. “These features, in addition to the well-insulated roof and walls, provide an environment that is comfortable in all circumstances. The building does not depend on year-round use of the air conditioning that was subsequently installed by the parents and citizens,” says DesignInc Associate Jacqueline Urford.
Externally, the neutral-coloured cladding blends with existing campus buildings, while bright and colourful panels and screens inject playfulness and joy to appeal to children. Internally, each homebase has a distinct and unified colour palette – orange, yellow and green – signified on the classroom doors and carried through joinery and pinboards. The new building opened in 2018 and Killara Public School has since painted doors throughout the existing buildings to match these colours. They have also purchased and installed new furniture and furnishings to match.
“Teachers, parents and staff are very happy as is the NSW Department of Education, who refer to it as an exemplar for the new educational model and teaching methods,” Jacqueline says.