Sacred Heart Primary School Library / Suters Architects

© Gollings Photography

Architects: Suters Architects
Location: Kew, Victoria,
Project Team: Joshua McAlister, Stasinos Mantzis, Wilson Heng, Peter Smith
Building Contractor: Contract Control
Project year: 2008
Photographs: Gollings Photography

© Gollings Photography

The big idea behind the new Sacred Heart Primary School Library was to create an interior which referenced the religious culture of the school in a subtle way using a reinterpretation of the visual language of Catholicism. It explicitly drives innovative design thinking by having the school’s identity manifest itself on the exterior and interior of the building, via imagery of the school’s name sake, The Sacred Heart. This provides a sense of place particular to the client group, the Parish of the Sacred Heart.

site plan

The project was an urban infill exercise with the site being an asphalt playground placed between two impressive nineteenth century buildings, the Sacred Heart Church and the adjacent School Hall. Care was taken to respectfully balance the library between these autonomous presences while adding to the continuity of the site.

© Gollings Photography
© Gollings Photography

The literal expression of the bleeding heart of Jesus is represented in plan as a morph of a series of traditional heart shapes. Images of the Human Heart bisected by a Love Heart form the base geometry for the layout of the walls. This starting point produces a distorted plan which does not address the polite ideas of scale or proportion but rather a fantastical urban condition.

section 03
elevations north

The client required a multi-functional space that functioned as an I.T. classroom, Library, Reading Recovery and a Learning Centre. The multi disciplinary space is large and column free, dissected with a high level clerestory roof formed from the overarching Crown of Thorns. The clerestory encourages a reliance on natural lighting and natural ventilation, lifting the teaching space from utilitarian to one possessing ethereal qualities with a double volume reminiscent of the adjacent church and halls.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Sacred Heart Primary School Library / Suters Architects" 21 Nov 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <>
  • Dude

    Someone should be banned from practicing architecture.

    • ric

      Someone should be banned from leaving unconstructive comments on the site!!!!
      Josh, this is way coool!!! LOVE the colors and the angles are great too!!!

  • Q

    despite some weird things you have to admit that it responds to its site quite well. I love the thin little passages between the existing buildings.

  • F379

    I agree that it is an awful, hideous, irrational and arbitrary building… However, to a child, i think this is perfect… it looks so fun to be inside/ around and at the end of the day, this is what a school needs to be, not a sterile stifling environment but possibly a fluorescent pink, exciting place.

  • up_today_arch

    Sureal… but it exists…

  • apples

    I like it. I’m not an architect but I like the concept and the building itself, and yes it does look kind of fun too!

  • Adrian

    Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis playing in the background.

    • Emma

      or MC Hammer’s ‘Can’t touch this’ [up enough].

  • jessica

    Given the description of what the school wanted, and their being catholic — it seems perfect to me!
    It looks incredible and it shows how sensitive this team were to the spiritual and creative needs of the children utilising this space. Im sure the pope would give it two thumbs up ;)