The architects behind the modernisation of our St Paul’s College, Balwyn campus were recently recognised at the Learning Environments Australasia Contemporary Design in Education Awards.
ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects won the ‘Renovation/Modernisation Over $5m’ award for the College, our specialist school for children with intellectual, physical, profound multiple and sensory disabilities.
Simon Le Nepveu, ClarkeHopkinsClarke Education Partner said the project required unusually close collaboration across the project team.
“Everyone worked exceptionally hard and creatively, solving problems as they arose and focusing on critical design objectives. We were all determined to deliver an outstanding facility.
“From a compact, vacant school in Balwyn, we created a nurturing, adaptable, state-of-the-art facility with a strong indoor-outdoor connection that’s purpose-built for students with complex disabilities and high needs,” Simon said.
“We transformed learning at St Paul’s by maximising every inch. We integrated indoor and outdoor space via glazing, playful internal joinery, and curvy external ramps, paths, playgrounds and landscaping.
“We transformed the hall into a zone for senior students and opened the main building, reconfiguring it for junior and middle students. We introduced shared spaces including staff retreats, a multi-purpose Discovery Centre, and an atmospheric Sensory Room with state-of-the-art interactive LUMES light panels.
“Relocatables were repurposed for services like bathrooms and a new café and art/hospitality space, which enabled the introduction of VCAL.”
St Paul’s Principal, Tim Hemphill says St Paul’s College has always recognised the importance of strong partnerships to support student learning, engagement and wellbeing.
“We share responsibility for creating an inclusive, safe school environment,” he said.
“Facilities at our previous site had evolved over the decades but were never purpose-built for the needs of our student cohort. Our goal was to create a contemporary, safe and nurturing school with state-of-the-art facilities where children and young people have a sense of belonging and every opportunity to reach their potential.
“Now we have an amazing learning environment for our students and teachers which better facilitates collaborative planning and sharing of skills, knowledge and experience. It also helps our partnerships with mainstream schools for dual enrolment students by creating a warm, inviting environment for meetings and professional learning.
“The team at ClarkeHopkinsClarke have done an amazing job, as have the VMCH Property Team. We were supported every step of the way, and both teams ensured that we created a space to completely transform the lives of the students in our care.
“It was wonderful to share this news with our school community. What this award really means is that they deserve, and now have, the very best facilities for the education of our students at our new school in Balwyn.
We’re most proud of the message which now greets students and families as they arrive at school: ‘you are highly valued and deserve the best environment possible in which to spend each school day’.
“In terms of self-worth and pride in our school, it is amazing to receive this award.”