BGGS gets creative

Mike Echalaz
Thursday 03 Jul 2008

m3architecture create an innovative creative learning center for Brisbane Girls Grammar School

The six storey Cherrell Hirst Creative Learning Centre project (CLC) at Brisbane Girls Grammar School (BGGS) combines the Art, Music, Drama and Technology facilities of the prominent inner city school, alongside a range of new social environments that tie the building program together within a single creative arts building. The centre also accommodates significant new social spaces, hall, gallery, performance and exhibition rooms, and kitchen / tuckshop.

Conceptually, the project is understood as an open-ended exploration of the notion of 'making connections,' in response to the social, educational, inter-disciplinary/collaborative, cultural, civic, functional and creative roles and aspirations held for the building. The idea of making connections can be understood at many levels of the brief and design of the new facility, with new connections being made within the building between disciplines, between the new CLC and the rest of the school, between BGGS and the adjoining Brisbane Grammar School (BGS), and between the school and the city.

The building is conceived as both two halves, and as one whole. The eastern wing of the building, containing public spaces, gathering points and circulation, contributes significantly to the social spaces in the school, and has a strong relationship to the existing landscape. Its outermost edge is carved out to maintain views from, and create a connection to the school's foundation building sited on Gregory Terrace. This gesture has also created the K' shaped columns that have become an iconic image of the east side of the new building. The western wing on the other hand is a horizontally layered, user appropriated, flexible series of spaces for teaching and learning. The horizontal expression of this wing meets the vertical language of the eastern wing at the central void - a dynamic space of circulation, social encounter and informal learning.

The search for ways to 'make connections is hoped to continue beyond the design of the facility itself, and into its use and occupation, as staff and students find ways of collaborating and using the building to its full potential. As such, the conceptual approach avoids a definitive or complete conception of the project, allowing the project to be defined and redefined by its successive groups of occupants, and as such, enables others to make connections of their own. This flexibility and promotion of user-determined outcomes encourages independent thinking - a fundamental tenet of creative practice.

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