Beyond the classroom

16 Feb 2010

Wilson Architects completes new facility designed to transcend the constraints of traditional learning spaces

The Brisbane Grammar School’s new integrated learning facility, The Lilley Centre, represents a significant transformative physical, symbolic and pedagogical shift from the School's 19th century roots. Over the last 10 years, pedagogy has been undergoing significant change particularly in light of the ubiquitous use of information technologies. Aligning the design of these spaces to meet this change globally has not been as rapid.

Much of the organisational framework of The Lilley Centre, designed by Wilson Architects, was built upon the Practice’s two-year critical research under an Australian Learning and Teaching Council grant in conjunction with the University of Queensland. The premise of the design is that all space can support learning through a range of learning modalities. As such, strategies to embed this range of didactic, active, discursive and reflective modes are considered throughout the Centre, where students are encouraged to logically extend learning from the teacher-led spaces into the student-directed study areas. Visual and physical thresholds between spaces are climacteric. Access into the building recognises population movement with multiple entries and a high degree of transparency.

There are a number of significant and innovative spaces within the Centre. The two-storey active learning space at the entry not only spatially organises the building but was also conceived as an extension to the historic Boarders’ Lawn and is emblematic of an open access to learning. Extensive use of glass blurs these boundaries as do the external perforated aluminum sunshades which fold back into the space and also critically attenuate noise. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively in groups using the furniture and technology tailored to replicate and extend classroom learning.

The Forum revisits the traditional lecture theatre and enables up to 150 students to break into small groups, collaborate and to then discuss as whole group. The library is integrated into the overall learning landscape. The print collection is secured but is encouraged to be used across the whole building. The arrangement of space allows for logic in the partitioning of noisy active spaces from the quiet reflective study and reading spaces. It is at this quiet extremity that the students enjoy impressive views of the Great Hall and are reminded of the School’s heritage.

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