Construction works have recently completed on a major new extension to Austins Ferry Primary School that has a strong community, as well as best-practice educational focus. It is designed to be used by kindergarten and prep classes and for the School’s Launch into Learning programme.
The development provides seven new classrooms designed specifically for early learning age groups, including one classroom specifically fitted out to encourage engagement with the 24 Carrot MONA garden in the school grounds via the preparation and cooking of food produced by the students on site. Entry is achieved via a new shared space hub that also allows prospective parents to come to the school with pre-school age children to begin their engagement with learning. This space is activated by play areas, distinctive lighting, a kitchen and strong connection to the playground outside. The Launch into Learning classroom has a puppet window for pre-schoolers to undertake shows whilst parents watch on.
The building has been designed to respond to the natural contours of the site in a manner which allows each classroom to open directly onto the playground. The form is deliberately broken into domestic scale elements, and the articulated roof allows all classrooms to benefit from natural light from both North and Southerly aspects whilst views of the surrounding bushland, playground and MONA kitchen garden have been harnessed via discreet smaller windows. The building is clad in a palette of materials that match its natural setting, which includes vertical macrocarpa timber boarding, which is also used as a feature material internally. This offers students the tactility of a natural material as their immediate enclosure.
Externally the project has also included the creation of a varied and engaging play areas in front of the new classrooms that simultaneously forms an extension to the internal teaching areas, and links to them via a broad covered way. The pathway of rainwater, recycled off the new building’s roof into an underground storage tank, has been the inspiration for this area, with collection tanks, curved pathways and water play areas all included.
Preliminary feedback on the reaction of staff and students to the new spaces has been very positive and we look forward to its continued use for many years to come as it accommodates the growth in school enrolments from the local area.