Northern Beaches Christian School [NBCS]

good-design-award_gold-winner_rgb_blk_logo
  • 2016

  • Architectural
    Commercial and Residential

Designed By:

  • WMK Architecture

Commissioned By:

Northern Beaches Christian School [NBCS]

Designed In:

Australia

The highly innovative new built environment for NBCS signals the ‘school of the future’.

Beneath a spectacular intelligent roof canopy, indoor/outdoor spaces and multi-level pavilions accommodate interactive learning environments, performance areas, support facilities, reception, administration, and a cafeteria. Combined with wireless connectivity, the learning spaces allow endless flexibility and multiple configurations.


view website

  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • Under a soaring roof canopy, classrooms are superseded by indoor/outdoor collaborative spaces designed for multiple learning modes and non-hierarchical interaction. Students no longer sit in classrooms at fixed desks. Instead, they are free to move around and use the different areas. Students have their creative thinking on display in the new glazed and light-filled science lab, encouraged by the custom writable surfaces. Pod stations and custom freeform tables are a favourite for groups, oversized chairs encourage individual thought, while window benches suit focused laptop users. The spaces offer endless opportunities for learning, studying, performing, and socialising.

  • The 11 metre high, 3000 square metre canopy is an intelligent 'living' structure which generates energy through voltaic solar panels, harvests rainwater, and cools the spaces below. The column design reticulates rainwater to underground collection tanks and feeds stored rainwater back up to the canopy misting system. Misting technology is responsive to the environment, triggered by increased temperatures, cooling the spaces beneath the canopy.

  • Balconies, seating nodes, oversized steps, and timber platforms are all enabled with wireless technology, allowing for endless configurations for performing, learning and studying beneath the canopy. Students can bring their own devices and connect to the network, increasing mobility and productivity. Teachers and students can effectively work from anywhere within the environment - indoors or outdoors.

  • WMK has designed for maximum use of natural light and ventilation. Windows and louvres in the building are automated to provide ventilation in direct response to climate conditions using a sophisticated Building Management System.

    WMK has designed a school environment using activity-based design principles usually developed for workplaces, with no restrictions on whether students or teachers use the space. This approach responds to important aspects of the school's learning model wherein students are entrusted to determine their own learning space and teachers are housed in the same shared spaces. The shared environment is reinforced in built form from the top down, with the principal leading the no office approach. Designing-in work transparency leads to increased knowledge transfer and is a key component of a healthy learning culture, bringing many organisational benefits.

    At the very heart of the school, the cafeteria pod building takes centre place with its 'treehouse' seating platform above anchored back to the learning spaces via a bridge. The centrally-located cafeteria pavilion creates a dynamic meeting place for students, teachers, parents and visitors alike, while the adjacent outdoor stage and screens complete the active, adaptable heart of the school. Many performances are staged at the school - including concerts and poetry celebrations - and the community can watch from numerous vantage points.

    The new facility has been created using honest, robust materials - steel, glass, concrete, and timber. Rather than appearing harsh or industrial, the materials have been composed in a way that brings warmth and texture to the environment. The interiors are highlighted by an innovative use of ply timber - a material not typically seen in finished interiors. The overarching canopy structure echoes the surrounding eucalypts, directing light and shade, with tapered, three-storey high concrete columns and steel roof trusses supporting a stepped semi-transparent roof. The scale of the canopy and the refined use of concrete and timber evoke a sense of playfulness alongside grounded strength.