St Clare's College Arts Centre

?Project Overview

St Clare’s College is located in Griffith, ACT and was originally constructed in the 1960’s. The needs of the College have expanded over time and they have gradually outsized their facilities. In 2003, Collard Clarke Jackson was approached to design a new Arts Centre at the Griffith campus which housed numerous teaching spaces including Design and Technology, Music, Drama, Dance and Visual Arts. The new building brings together all of these teaching spaces under one roof where previously they had been located across the site.

Collard Clarke Jackson gave particular attention to the spatial experience in and around the building, by controlling acoustics, movement and gathering, and with the use of colour and light (both natural and artificial). Close consultation with the College and it’s teaching staff enable detailed attention to the specific needs of each teaching space.

The site chosen for the new Arts Centre is in a prominent location on the site, looking out across playing fields which is heavily utilised by students during breaks allowing for passive surveillance by building occupants, and providing a formal address to McMillan Crescent which previously did not exist. The central atrium is a generous space which is utilised by the College for exhibitions and general circulation. Orientation of the Arts Centre maximises solar gain during winter months whilst providing protection from the harsh summer sun in Canberra. The visual arts spaces are located in an area of the building where they will not receive direct light.

The material palette for the Arts Centre is deliberately restrained to tie into existing buildings on the campus and to minimise ongoing maintenance. Hydronic slab heating was installed in all parts of the building and is run from gas fired boilers. Future connection of solar or geothermal technologies has also been provided for. High levels of natural daylighting are provided to ensure minimal energy use with artificial lighting during the daytime which is the primary occupation time of the building. A natural ventilation system maximises airflow by means of manual and automated windows, thereby reducing the need for mechanical ventilation (ceiling fans). The building is also controlled to open windows at night to allow a night purge, which encourages the building mass to cool overnight.

Images: Ben Wrigley