Southern Elevation

Project Overview

Burgmann Anglican School commenced operations in 1999 with 24 pupils from Kindergarten to Year 3. It has a strong educational philosophy based on the premise that each individual is a unique person created by God with his/her own gifts, strengths, needs and weaknesses. The School endeavours to provide for each person’s needs so that he/she can reach full potential – the idea of excellence is focused on the individual and his/her potential. It is this philosophy, coupled with the fact that they offer education from Preschool to Year 12 and have a strong values program that has made the school very successful.

This simple philosophy drives everything about the school, including the design of the master plan, the architecture of the buildings and the landscape plan. In order to create a school that is inviting and welcoming, reflecting the needs of the younger children in the Junior School, the architecture there is low scale and residential in nature and has strong elements that reflect our Australian heritage. These elements aim to make strong links with the adjacent heritage site, “The Valley”. Symmetry, verandahs, corrugated iron and stonework, elements that were used in “The Valley”, has been incorporated into the school design to make this link. As the children grow and their needs change, and so does the design and the scale of the architecture for the upper years of the School.

Planning

Burgmann has been designed around a loose framework of a concept and master plan. The master plan was not formulated as a rigid element but as a guide. This allowed the school to develop like a town or community.

 A school is not a factory for learning

Using a town as a model allows interaction and gives equal importance to external spaces. It also allows each building to have an identity which children can relate to, particularly small children. Ultimately, the school can develop into patterns of functions and spaces. This promote  areas of play into age groups protected by related buildings and reduces incidents of bullying.

The school is a web of identifiable sub-schools or neighbourhoods

At this level, a frame is set for the more detailed design of spaces at a lower personal level. It is important that the overall concept has a large palette of shapes and materials to do this well. An unfortunate aspect of schools in the current climate is a focus on minimizing maintenance at the expense of education. Children are people too, and they respond to their environment as much as we do. The focus of office accommodation currently is to provide better work conditions to improve productivity. It is therefore logical to expect that better environments in schools  will promote better results in both students and teachers.

Layering

Burgmann Anglican School has been designed using the form of an eccentric nucleus (refer concept plan). This shape is the basic building form of life derived from elements such as seeds or cells. Forms such as these are repeated at higher level in cities and towns that grow from the nucleus of eccentric central area. In the school, the nucleus forms the entry and the radiating growth forms the neighbourhood around this centre of activity. The overlaying concept provides a layer to the loose framework of the master plan which binds the school together. The danger of a loose framework is that the school may become too random and have no centre or no obvious control. Layers that overlay Burgmann and help define its identity are:

  • Educational philosophy
  • Context and the heritage site
  • Environmental design
  • Landscape

Sustainable Buildings

The school has always developed a concern for the environment within its education and this is reflected in all buildings on the campus. These range from simple incorporation of high levels of insulation and passive ventilation to a BMS control for more complex buildings. This was built without additional funding. The controls for night purge operation (natural ventilation) and heating system are displayed to students using a computer controlled weather station within the Resource Centre. The integration of manual and automatic controls makes the school ‘a living school.’ It responds to changes in weather while allowing user input into comfort conditions allowing ultimate flexibility. The conditions reflect on the buildings through wind, sun, rain, heat and cold.

Images: Ben Wrigley