Woods, for flexible learning - Education Matters Magazine
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Woods, for flexible learning

At Woods Furniture, the end product is the environment the company is proud to have helped create, collaborating with architects and the education community.

One of its most recent projects, created for St Monica’s Primary School, in Moonee Ponds, Victoria, was no exception.

The only difference was that the 1917 heritage building revamp was shortlisted for an Australian Interior Design Award in the Public Category.

The contextually-driven design for the school’s Senior Centre re-conceptualised an underutilised courtyard into a central modern learning environment, providing six general purpose learning areas and a presentation space catering for more than 150 Year 5 and 6 students.

The brief was to create a sophisticated and mature space for senior students transitioning to high school, while respecting and working within the school’s heritage framework. This was implemented through a restricted material palette.

Critical to the architect’s thought process was maintaining the feeling of light and sky, designing the ceiling to be a sculptural interpretation. The ceiling serves as a gentle curve, linking two sides of the previous courtyard into a mirrored horizon edge, with the light shaped like a pebble. At the same time, the custom joinery promotes a sense of connectivity, visibility and safety.

Three key pieces of joinery occupy the facility – a learning lounge, campfire and a communal table, which addressed the requirement to have multiple areas for learning. The campfire allows for an entire class group to gather and hold small presentations, while its seating and workbench can be used for study or group activity.

The architects also concentrated on applying passive sustainable design principals. Five pebble skylights provide a generous level of natural
light while ensuring architects met the correct speci cations of glass. The facility can be naturally ventilated using high and low-level louvres that generate cross ventilation through the space. Landscape architects introduced resilient plants – bringing natural foliage into the space.

From the start, the budget had critical implications on the design, but architects worked within existing conditions, retaining surfaces, and affordable materials.

The newly-remodeled Senior Centre provides students with a flexible interchange between classroom-based learning, collaborative workspaces, presentation or individual learning. This exciting development looks to the school’s future and promotes a mature learning philosophy among its students.

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