Braitling Stage 2
‘This exemplary project achieves important educational and social impact and is a testament that good design here has made a difference,’ the jury said. ‘Because of the design there has been a 67% reduction in behaviour referrals; in a cohort where 28% of kids have ongoing trauma, the outdoor relief space has reduced issues in the classroom; and attendance has risen 76% to 85.9%.’
Braitling Primary School Stage 2 refers to a stage in the school masterplan prepared by SDA in 2015. The Stage 2 project is based on the philosophy that education is a whole of life endeavour, and that engagement with children from 0 to 4 years of age greatly improves learning outcomes in later years. To support this vision the school is attracting families to the campus by providing family services and facilities including allied health clinics, a toddlers’ playground, access to a canteen/cafe and landscaped areas. These facilities are combined with the existing preschool and transition and year 1 learning spaces to form an early years precinct.
The original school buildings include very large learning spaces that open into each other, resulting in a conglomerated floor plan that excludes natural light and ventilation and has very weak connections to the outdoor environment. The Stage 2 project supports general strategies from the masterplan aimed at addressing this poor physical environment, including developing open ‘green corridors’ running east-west through the existing campus.
Stage 2 commenced with strategic removal of a poorly located, undersized, covered assembly area and canteen building that acted as barriers to light, vison and circulation though the school, replacing them with a single large shade roof.
The new 75 metre long, 5 metre high shade canopy, cantilevered from central columns, is the centrepiece of the project, connecting many disparate existing buildings into one large play area. It provides clear space for play and lines of sight for supervision of students and navigation between the different areas of the school. The main circulation routes of the school flow into the new outdoor space, improving access and visual connection to the school’s existing play equipment and green open space. The height of the shade structure and strategically placed louvres in the canopy allow sunlight to penetrate in the winter months.
South of the new play area external doors in the existing classrooms connect the learning spaces to a new orchard garden. Raised garden beds create a sitting space for eating, play and outdoor learning. The garden beds are planted with sensory plants and citrus trees which will grow to provide nature shade and increase the green space visible from the classrooms.
A northern existing classroom building has been renovated to make new teaching areas for early years students. The large open classrooms provide nooks and spaces for different activities and one on one learning. The north façade of this building has been opened to connect to green play areas and a small courtyard. Native planting and riverbed landscaping links the different elements of the project and provides opportunity for nature play.
Closest to the preschool and parking, the eastern edge of the school has been made accessible to families with a playground for toddlers, consultation rooms and a new family room. The new canteen is located to act as a buffer between the school play and family areas, and to serve as a café for families.
2019 The NT Chapter Award for Educational Architecture
2019 The Thorny Devil (Moloch Horridus) Award for Sustainable Architecture