Stawell Secondary College
This project celebrates the original heritage building on the campus whilst acknowledging an awakening awareness of local indigenous culture.
With more built area than student numbers could justify and with ageing facilities, a masterplan was undertaken to provide for current requirements. Two classroom blocks were demolished, the inadequate fire protection system was replaced and this new science and food technology building was carefully inserted.
With reduced student numbers limiting the teaching programs on offer, full size science classrooms were split into separable theory and laboratory areas, enabling their use as smaller teaching spaces or as a single large classroom.
Conceptually this project grew out of two primary observations: That the original heritage building on campus was the existing building of greatest architectural merit; and that an awakening awareness of local indigenous heritage exists in this area – evidenced by the transitional renaming of the nearby Grampians to Gariwerd.
The new building forms an alliance with the heritage building, its steeply pitched roofscapes a companion in form as well as silhouette. Eave overhangs protect the interior from the harsh Wimmera sun – and at times torrential rain – whilst partially containing the internal outlook. This creates spatial intimacy whilst borrowing further from the heritage precedent, using coffered ceilings to gain additional internal ceiling height.
Whilst celebrating heritage architecture it also offers a critique. Above the brickwork base, the timber battening is suggestive of the lightweight wall structure and timber lathe battening hiding below the formal surfaces of heritage building construction.
Internally, the usually concealed volumes within the steep roof forms are revealed and celebrated through the central skylit corridor, where timber lathe battens – here used as sun shading – echo the diagonal patterning of indigenous shields and other artefacts, gently suggestive of the long overlooked yet deeply embedded cultural history of the area.
This negotiation between colonial form and indigenous content extends to the landscape, where formal rectangular garden beds are densely planted with an array of banksia, grevilia and myoporum, a celebration of indigenous landscape.
- Full Services
Project Director: James Staughton
Project Team: James Staughton, Simone Koch, William Heath
Photographer: John Gollings
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