A splash of colour at Dalyellup

Friday 26 Feb 2010

Fresh new school is a ribbon of contemporary architectural spaces

Dalyellup College is a new school in a picturesque, tree filled site just outside the coastal south west city of Bunbury. The design is a ribbon of contemporary architectural spaces - distinct learning communities integrated with specialist facilities - woven amongst retained trees that form a 'signature' for the new school. A two storey building mass protects the south west corner of the site from strong prevailing winds, providing a strong street address and a focus to the main entry. The building form creates a generous, north facing community 'heart' courtyard. A materials palette of natural finishes including terracade, coloured concrete, metal, exposed aggregate polished floors, is complemented by splashes of vibrant colour dispersed according to function and location.

The design team developed a response to a prescriptive program to help promote cross-curricular interaction. Key principles include: co-locating and blurring the boundaries between traditionally segregated areas of the curriculum; making a distinction in scale, location and texture between General Learning Communities and the more sophisticated Senior Learning Community; emphasising linkages between internal and external spaces with large opening walls, deep verandah 'rooms' and informal work spaces; developing incidental and benchmarked circulation space to encourage flexible learning opportunities; integrating sustainability principles into the building design and layout.

The design process, including interaction with the eventual College Principal, tested briefed operational issues while investigating ‘soft’ or unbriefed opportunities. For example, a ‘multipurpose room’ with folding glass walls within the library/café provides opportunity for three configurations; demonstration restaurant, seminar or library expansion. This approach has now been adopted by Department of Education as standard practice.In a similar way, the performing arts facility can operate as separate performance / dance studios, a proscenium stage using dance studio, or be reversed with large tilt doors to view a stage from the courtyard. The site layout allows discreet, natural surveillance with minimal staff - but emphasises a community heart focused on an existing significant tree. Many issues were interrogated in this way…but it is most exciting for the design team to watch the school community develop their own, unexpected responses to open-ended design opportunities.

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