Arts Village

  • 2018

  • Architectural
    Architectual Design

Designed By:

  • Andrew Nolan
  • Architect

Commissioned By:

German International School Sydney

Designed In:


The project for the German International School Sydney was initiated as an alternative to typical demountable classrooms and uses containers in original stacked and staggered arrangements to create a series of simple, light-filled, energy efficient, multi-purpose learning spaces, carefully sited to form a campus village in a natural bushland setting.

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  • The design challenges were to: - simply create pleasing, flexible, cost effective multifunctional learning spaces as an alternative to standard demountables - integrate passive heating and cooling to minimize use of air conditioning - achieve glare free natural daylighting to minimize use of artificial lighting - achieve a sustainable design which can be reused both on or off site, or recycled - fit the sloping terrain and bushland setting - respond to the bush fire exposure - provide flexibility for many school uses, both present and future - avoid a rigid, institutional feel - appeal to children of all ages (K-Y12).

  • The design, using 12 shipping containers as modules, creates four multifunctional spaces arranged to follow the natural topography, open the spaces to views and avoid the visual rigidity of a single row institutional plan. Each space is formed with two containers at floor level and another stacked over the middle, forming a double height space with glazing to the south, which encourages natural ventilation and maximizes glare free daylighting. The upper containers also provide compartments for plant rooms and air chambers to promote passive heating and cooling. The lower containers form large focus alcoves for presentation, engagement, reflection.

  • The design reduces visual and environmental impact by: - siting the structures to follow the contours of the bushland setting - elevating the modules to minimize change to the existing landscape - maintaining the natural vegetation - integrating natural ventilation with the design form - providing optimum glare free natural daylighting - including passive heating and cooling options - building in flexibility for re-use and recycling options - eliminating superfluous use of materials and elements - realizing the maximum potential for the spaces by using fewer building components. These benefits are simply integrated with the design.

  • The stacked and staggered arrangement of the containers, with simple uncluttered wall planes, is intended to be abstract and modern and also evocative of the elemental nature of children’s building blocks. The form and colour of the ‘blocks’ are intended to add both vitality and levity to the campus. The vibrant palette blends as a lorikeet in the landscape and the setting will be further enhanced by the growth of new native shrubs and trees. The use of containers as both structure and cladding and their placement off the ground to avoid the necessity for slabs, retaining walls and extra site drainage, were significant design considerations for construction efficiency. A modular system was designed for the interior, to make continuous floor to ceiling whiteboards and pinboards. The brief required air conditioning, but careful consideration was also given to natural ventilation and the potential of passive heating and cooling options in the design. In winter, the air chambers collect and store heat for distribution to the spaces. In summer they are used to discharge heat and have the potential to be utilized as solar chimneys to induce ventilation on calm hot days.