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Stuart Tanner Architects, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Thursday 07 Apr 2011

Leaders of the New School

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Australian Architects bring new life to old school building 

Goulburn Street Primary School is an established Department of Education facility which includes an original 1943 main building by renowned Tasmanian Architect SWT Blythe. The site was placed permanently on the Tasmanian Heritage Register in 1998. The THR notes describe the SWT Building as such: This building (inc. stone retaining walls and mature trees) is a significant element in the urban street scape."

Stuart Tanner Architects approach recognised this history and sensitivity was given to the significant character of the school. Topography and limited space necessitated careful integration of new elements. The new multi-purpose pavilion provides an alternate entry to the school, linking two large oak trees and revealing a broad vista of West Hobart toward the city.

There appeared to require a sense of invitation to the site. The location of the new building was an opportunity to generate a welcoming entrance that gave focus to the major oak within the playground. The pavilion caters for the dual function of being both a teaching space and after hour's community facility.

The roof profile is low, in deference to the original building above, while gently gesturing toward the oaks at either end. The southern pre-cast concrete wall defines the entry corridor, its emblematic tree branch a link between each oak. The orientation capitalises on the topography such that the interior benefits from a panorama of the surrounding suburb, as a positive visual release for the school.

The brief outlined the need for a flexible space that provided for various school activities, with the additional potential for community use. Storage was also a key requirement. The new building remains logical in plan, utilising the zones at each end as flat play area. The contour was employed to create a school store as an undercroft. 

The limited budget by comparison to the school's brief & scope dictated a careful rationale in terms of priority. Emphasis was given to introducing a new building that would enhance the function of the school and invigorate its sense of place, without overriding the existing context. 

The pavilion employs a number of measures to enhance its sustainable attributes. These include orientation along the contour to contain excavation; east west alignment providing for cross ventilation along the axis and solar gain during winter months; insulated slab and pre-cast panels; low-e cool roofing; double clearstory glazing and internal solar drapes; insulation; solar hot water connection points; rainwater collection and re-use for toilet systems, recyclable floor coverings, low draw lighting and general longevity of external finishes.

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Stuart Tanner Architects

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