Text description provided by the architects. Located on a green-field site in Regional Victoria, Marist College Bendigo will provide a brand new P-12 facility for a rapidly growing population. When complete it will house around 1500 students and provide ample facilities that will enrich both the school and its neighbourhood providing opportunities to foster community identity and encourage growth.
As the initial stage the Montague Centre sits at front of the school, a showcase for what is to come. The building projects out into newly formed wetlands but remains grounded in the site through heavy rammed earth walls towards the schools centre. These striking elements are complemented with a textural palette of warm timbers and bold colours. The project utilized recycled timber elements within its structure, which provide a layer of history and depth to the new buildings.
A comprehensive investigation and analysis of emerging pedagogical approaches have informed the framework for learning at Marist College. Through discussions, ideas have translated into the facility design which is both appropriate and adaptable for future developments and change.
Students are provided with an array of interchangeable scaled spaces from small reflective cave spaces, to medium sized discussion spaces, large collaborative areas and extra large gathering/presentation spaces. Staff are embedded within these learning areas, as an accessible and guiding resource for students. Transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces are fluid and enhanced by the buildings location at edge of the water creating an embedded approach to education in the landscape.
Integrated specialist space provide students with access to a variety of facilities from a gastronomy kitchen linking foods to learning, to an exploratory laboratory and messy projects area providing facilities for creative and messy exploration. A think tank zone provides a space for casual discussion and access to resources. These areas are designed to encourage parent participation and foster with coffee facilities, access to resources, food making opportunities and comfortable gathering areas. This complements the school’s philosophy of community building and a nurturing program of engaged activities.
Material selection has been designed to foster a sense of tradition in the school's culture. The use of rock, rammed earth and recycled timbers form a narrative that identifies both an intrinsic local heritage and the influences of L'hermitage, France (birthplace of Marist faith).
A natural theme of eucalyptus greys/greens and ochra reds/browns are accentuated with textured timbers to create warm and welcoming interiors that gracefully define various zones and spaces. The large windows draw natural light into the heart of the facilities with smaller key openings framing views and vistas of the grounds and wetlands.
Externally, the black forms of the building sit above the wetlands with their bright punches of colour emulating the bush after a fire, with its promises of renewal and growth. The Montague Centre represents the first stepping stone of the school's journey and is designed to instil the aspirations and values of Marist College on its occupants and community, and create capable learning environments that are succinct with the opportunities of 21st century education.