Text description provided by the architects. The new Preparatory School creates a series of individual linked buildings set within the landscape, linked by courtyards, play spaces and learning breakout spaces. Guildford Grammar School is situated in the heart of Western Australia’s Swan Valley. Located on the Swan River, the site nestles into the floor plain and wetlands of this ecosystem.
The buildings are oriented to capture views to the floodplain and strategic elements of the campus; and to allow for the connection of external learning with the internal classroom environment.
Woven throughout the project is the notion of learning and play, and the integration of these as part of the whole. Sliding, climbing, tunneling and waterplay all break down barriers between traditional learning environments and a more contemporary pedagogy.
The material character of the project differs from outside, in. Like a jewel box, the solid and steady external character of the brick, zinc and sandstone reference the campus and fabric of historic Guildford, an area rich in heritage. These give way internally to a play of warm plywood, vibrant colours, soft and slippery surfaces, inviting exploration and inhabitation.
The plan is centered around a courtyard and streets which connect horizontally and vertically, linking play, breakout and learning spaces. Colour and texture animate the spaces creating a transparent and engaging learning environment for the preparatory school, placing learning on display.
The sequencing of classroom, transition, breakout and courtyards provide a continuum of integrated flexible learning spaces to be explored by new methods of learning, technologies and pedagogies.
The project incorporates active and passive sustainable design strategies to minimise embodied carbon and energy use through its operation. Natural light, ventilation, water harvesting and solar energy are all visible aspects of the design which contribute to environmental awareness and energy efficiency. These systems integrate with water courses; natural and man-made, to further enhance the connection to the wetland ecosystem. The building acts as a tool for teaching and learning about the site and its ecology.