Through an extensive, collaborative consultation process with the client, educators, authorities and the design team, the proposed design has benefited from an iterative design evolution.
The proposed SGSA, Rouse Hill will provide for students from years K to 12 an integrated education campus of 1,260 students along with an 86-child Early Learning Centre (ELC) and student boarding for 112 students. Proposed is a three stream primary and a four stream secondary school, accommodated in 3 to 4 storey buildings flanking the north and south boundaries. Adjoining this is their place of worship, termed ‘Gurdwara’, which contributes to framinge a central open space which is an extension of the School’s ‘Langar’, a place for sharing food.
Reinforcing the idea of enclosing/containing outdoor space, the student boarding facilities and ELC wrap around the western boundary. Generous open space provides both a village green and a formal civic heart. The civic heart fronts the Gurdwara and associated Langar. With a growing community in the Rouse Hill area the school will provide a desirable educational facility that protects and enhances both Punjabi and mainstream curriculum.
The school presents itself as a three storey elevation to all streetscapes with a fourth storey ‘Bridge’ building both connecting and separating the Primary and Secondary buildings. The fourth storey is appropriately set back from the boundaries so as to avoid both overshadowing and loss of privacy to what will become adjacent two storey dwellings. The Gurdwara is a 2 storey volume over a 1 to 1 1/2 storey Langar and community facility below. As an overall volume, the building is nearly 4 storeys in height which, together with its stylised cultural aesthetic, creates an appropriate prominence on site.
Site + Contextual Analysis
The proposed school site at 151-161 Tallawong Road has a strong sense of connection being in close proximity to the nearby Rouse Hill Metro terminus. This is located 700 metres south on Tallawong Road and has good access to supporting local and community services such as sporting and recreational facilities.
The proposal goes beyond a collection of classrooms and corridors, in providing a strong sense of community both internally and externally.
The Architecture + Pedagogy
The design reflects the educational philosophy of the Sikh culture and its local community. Contemporary spaces for teaching and learning offer agility and flexibility to accommodate a variety of groups, learning styles and settings, whilst enabling them to be adapted over time.
The design is based on considered responses to the needs of teachers and learners, founded in research and built on experience.
Ultimately, the greatest contributor to learning outcomes is the quality and adaptability of teaching spaces. The architecture is to support, stimulate and provide opportunities for teachers and learners to excel and will reflect a positive, professional and collaborative environment that celebrates strong social connection.
The proposed facilities anticipate the changing requirements of learning environments whilst reinforcing a strong sense of place and spirit for the School, and the groups within it.
The design anticipates the requirements of a campus being occupied during staged construction as well as having a strong community use outside normal school hours.
Place and space
We know that learners who feel safe and secure, as well as stimulated, achieve better outcomes. With technology as an enabler, contemporary learning focuses on personalised learning, collaboration and creativity. These qualities are not promoted by traditional, didactic spaces.
Schools seek to develop citizens and innovators/ creative thinkers/problem solvers for the future, and the proposal draws on a strong understanding of contemporary workplace practice to inform the design.
A Professional Workplace
The design recognises that the quality of teaching is the greatest contributor to learning outcomes, and that the School is their workplace. Acknowledging the needs of the teaching cohort to develop their practice, increasingly in collaborative settings, is key to developing their professional workplace. This strategy also increases the School’s ability to attract and retain high quality teaching staff in a competitive marketplace and offer them a rewarding and engaging workspace.
Schools have a unique opportunity to adopt principles of environmentally sensitive and sustainable design, due to their long-term stewardship and occupation of their facilities, the importance of whole-of-life cost and issues regarding environmental education. Equally significant is the school’s central position in the community and the opportunity to lead by example whilst demonstrating these values.
Creating healthy learning environments with well day lit, naturally ventilated spaces and excellent acoustics, offers students improved learning outcomes and staff a positive working environment.
In addition, by exemplifying sustainable design principles, the architectural spaces, the building itself, becomes an additional teacher.
These key principles have been embodied from the commencement of the design process for this proposal.
Open Space and Car Parking:The masterplan reflects a greatly reduced on ground parking solution and minimises hardscape in general. Underground parking was introduced that occupies the void under the Gurdwara.
Maximising Open Space:By locating most of the parking underground, generous areas of open space are created for both the school operations and the Gurdwara. This additional open space increases the student to open space ratio to be greater than 10 square meters per child on ground, with roof terrace areas being above this requirement.
The Stop-Kiss-&-Leave drop-off is also located underground with multiple points of entry to the School above;
Articulating Specific Play Spaces: Specific cohort play spaces have been created that align with the school programmes. Dedicated outdoor spaces have been provided for Student Boarding.
Reducing the Heat Island Effect: With the reduction in hardscape, greater areas of open space are now available for greenscape. In addition to this it is proposed to create evaporative cooling systems on the village green with irrigation from the water harvesting reservoir
Entry and School Identity: All parking has been removed from the entry to the School, along with the associated boom gates.
Inverting fencing to civic forecourt: The use of “buildings as fence” has been adopted to create a less defensive engagement with the streetscapes. The boundary to the Forecourt reads as an open space to Tallawong Road and the school entry. This is achieved by inverting fencing with the use of a Ha Ha Wall which allows the use of subtle balustrades rather than tall, imposing boundary fencing. Boundary fences have receded into the landscape and buildings are used as barriers with generous landscaping in-between, wherever possible. The arrival becomes spatially engaging and finds a balance between security and a sense of welcome.
Built Form and Massing: While the Gurdwara maintains its monolithic qualities, the facade articulates a floating form on two pods that pull apart to create a sense of entry. The floating form above is broken up with abstract perforations that are drawn from and reflect specific Sikh culture. The school buildings are broken up into forms that respond to the staging of works and ensures clear lines of circulation as the building form evolves.
Building Articulation: The School is to be constructed over nine stages. The architectural expression reflects the sequencing of procurement. The delineation of the stages is typically made around vertical circulation nodes. The overall result is a development that responds to circulation, security, points of entry, building use and nodes for social gatherings.
Express the relationships of School to surrounding housing: The development engages with the street interface and responds to the likely scale of the proposed housing on adjacent lots. Taller elements of the School are set back and are sited centrally. The Gurdwara is also central to the site and offers appropriate steet engagement. The proposed development acknowledges the Blacktown City Council’s DCP for the Growth Precincts and is appropriate to the future use of a residential neighbourhood.
Improved Transition Between Buildings and Open Space: Landscape and building engagement is enhanced with considered interstitial spaces that transition between built form and external spaces. Buildings offer integrated covered circulation between spaces with overhangs that are part of the overall building.
Sustainability Measures Include:
Water Harvesting - Water Sensitive Urban Design principles have been adopted on the site with
a series of rain gardens that filter runoff. Water storage has also been adopted for re-use in irrigation and landscape evaporative cooling.
Photovoltaic electricity generation is proposed along with future battery storage facilities and electric car charging points.
High performance building envelope design includes super-insulated reverse brick veneer, natural cross ventilation, appropriate window screening for solar and glare control, generous window reveals and solar fins specifically designed to respond to solar orientation.
Mechanical ventilations systems with heat recovery. Low energy (LED) artificial lighting throughout the campus with motion and daylight detectors.
Landscaped roof gardens with high insulation and the highest available reflective index to all metal deck roofs, to reduce solar heat gain to all buildings.
Low water use planting with recycled water for irrigation across the campus.
Use of public transport and active transport systems to be encouraged for all staff and as age- appropriate for the students in order to reduce car use, GHG emissions and traffic congestion.
Careful selection of all construction materials with consideration of their embodied energy, longevity, low maintenance, end-of-life recyclability, local availability and manufacture from renewable resources and low-VOC attributes.
Operational waste management plan to be carefully implemented and students encouraged to be mindful of the use of plastics and other materials that can cause harm to their local environment.
Ecological and local biodiversity considerations included in the Landscape design with a focus on a restorative design approach.