Building bridges between learning and nature

Sian
26 Feb 2010

The Bridges incorporates a natural woodland setting into its new architectural feature

Nestled in the formerly fully forested setting, the school brings the experience of learning and growing with nature into the daily life of the whole school’s community. The site’s DNA is 'brought in' through the middle courtyard between the two building wings. The two wings connected by the bridges help resolve 60 feet of slope across the site. At the upper level the activity wing contains public use functions, including a gym, multi-purpose room with stage and a music room. Educational spaces in the two-storey academic wing are visually connected to the adjacent forest to the east, as well as directly connected to the courtyard on the west.

The parti enabled bringing the nature and landscape 'in', effectively treating the outdoor space and landscape design as an integral part of the architecture and the school’s 'interior'. The courtyard design with two overhead bridges creates dynamically alternating interior and exterior prospect and refuge spaces. The rich and varied character of these spaces allows students to personalise the spaces as desired for socialising, informal small group or individual learning. The design honours and reinterprets the character of the previously forested site through integrating salvaged boulders, stumps, and logs into the landscape - a memory. They serve both as a tacit reminder of the site’s history and as tactile sculptures intended to encourage student curiosity, allowing nature to become the teacher. The school opened in September 2007.

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