As St Bede’s is a new secondary school, the facilities are both contemporary and new. The whole design of the campus is aimed at providing students with the very best opportunities for learning.
The campus when fully built by 2023, will cater for more than 1,000 Year 7 to 12 students. It will include four modern designed interconnected buildings and a chapel, in addition to generously sized outside learning and play areas.
The form of the buildings is based upon an internalised organic-formed circulation spine, which intersects with four rigid, strong and rectilinear built forms positioned along the contours of the site. The dialogue between the two built forms is reflective of the activity and use of the spaces.
The large four ‘pillar’ buildings will contain the main teaching and learning spaces for the school, including all general-purpose teaching spaces, office and support rooms and specialist teaching facilities for science, art, TAS, performance and the library. The buildings are split level over the site and are generally limited to two-storey, except in the first building completed in 2018 which is three stories at its central axis.
The buildings step up the site, allowing the buildings to take advantage of the panoramic views to the west and the natural fall of the site to limit the impact of full height buildings in what will be a residential area. Each building also contains the main services of the buildings including staff and student amenities and lifts to facilitate disabled access to all floors of the building and the corresponding external courtyard areas.
The robust nature of these buildings is reflected in the materiality and detailing with the use of precast concrete, post tension floor slabs, combined precast and lightweight walls and extensive operable gazed areas to facilitate a clear connection between the inside space and external areas.
The internal circulation spine, known as the ‘Peregrine trail’, is a more organic form, which wraps along the existing contours of the site. The use of this space, apart from for internal circulation from building to building, is the allocation of space for flexible teaching and learning.
The approach to education that is being developed within this project reflects the ‘future-focused learning’ movement. Areas of the hallways are dedicated for classrooms with flexible furniture and adaptable areas available for use, depending on both the subject being delivered and the group of students involved.
The external appearance of the Peregrine Trail also responds to the direct west aspect by incorporating a series of perforated mesh screens which aid in the sun-shading requirements to the glazed areas.
The design of the proposed school is to take advantage of its elevation, the long views west to the mountain ranges and the ability for the school to utilise the northern and eastern aspects for courtyard spaces. The site also allows for natural cross ventilation into internalised areas, and the ability for raised skylights to allow natural daylight into the functional areas of the school.
The proposed aesthetic has an impact on the street frontage, however is intended to reflect the impact that the school has on the community, the ability for the public to access areas for use as well as making a statement in regard to the catholic nature of the school and its impact on not just the immediate area, but the Maitland-Newcastle region.