Ravenswood School's new building empowers students and facilitates self directed learning
The Mabel Fidler Building on Sydney’s North Shore is a transformational building that provides insight into the 21st century school. Importantly, the new building provides Ravenswood School for Girls with a new front door and also functions as the central hub and heart of the school. The design of this building was initiated through a master planning process focused on creating an attractive, imaginative and stimulating learning environment that empowers students and facilitates self directed learning.
Dramatic cantilevers were created by raising the library onto the upper level and thus providing a number of covered spaces where informal learning can take place. In the entry courtyard that sits in the centre of the project there is a new café that opens out to views of the adjacent oval in one direction and inwards to views of the bridges that link the administration, junior and senior libraries offering a blur of movement as staff and students move around the buildings.
The ground level has brick walls picking up the masonry materials in the existing campus, whilst the upper levels are on a steel frame with a translucent cladding which together with the significant cantilever creates an appearance of hovering over the base. At the oval end of the building a large canopy roof floats over a large verandah that opens off the courtyard atrium and allows the building to be read from the Pacific Highway across the oval.
The scheme provides much needed vertical and horizontal connectivity for the school. The proposal unifies both landscape and environmentally sustainable design principals. The facilities allow for best practice and ensure the school’s philosophy of flexibility and an individual approach to teaching and learning. Bill Dowzer, project principal, says: “Pedagogical theories and technology are rapidly changing the learning environment, and this building is a look into the future of education spaces.”