Merging a local primary and high school into one K-12 long-learning precinct, Woods Bagot have created a school future proofed for modern learning methods at Meadowbank Schools in Sydney’s north-west.
Both Meadowbank Public School and Marsden High School feature spaces that encourage collaboration, connection and leisure for more than 2500 students. The site has long been home to Meadowbank TAFE, with the relocation of the two schools culminating in the creation of the Meadowbank Education and Employment Precinct.
Ian Lomas, Design Leader and Principal at Woods Bagot, says the campus provides spaces for students to identify with, and belong to, introducing opportunities for cross-cohort intermingling in both incidental and formal ways.
“Contemporary teaching methods commanding an agile and future-focused learning environment informs the overall architectural expression and interior design approach. Creating a sense of scale and diversity of spaces for kids of all ages has been an important consideration,” he says.
The school’s location defined the structure. Sitting amongst a densely populated network of trees, the twin double-storey buildings frame a central hill of libraries covered by cascading gardens. Each level opens out to a green setting, with a series of connected courtyards providing spaces for collaboration and outdoor learning.
“Biophilia – our connection with nature, and how this supports learning – is something that has been strongly considered throughout the design process,” Lomas says.
“Part of the building is elevated above the landscape to create a feeling of being amongst the tree canopy. The courtyards provide highly collaborative zones for play, performance-based activities and practical learning.
“Arranged to embrace the landscape, their open-ended design invites students to ‘cross the threshold’ into new territory.”
Other environmental considerations include access to natural daylight, views to nature, and surrounding landmarks including the Parramatta River. Lomas believes it was vital to provide an architectural framework which could be easily modified and adapted over time.
“This project creates an adaptive architecture that blends a diverse group of people, spaces, activities and nature in a theatre for learning.”
Woods Bagot’s Director and Global Leader in Education and Science, Georgia Singleton, says the NSW education system is undergoing something of an evolution.
“There’s a real shift in education in NSW, delivering schools which are arguably the best in the world. We thrive on helping schools to champion the learning experience and inspire future generations through the design of the physical environment – Meadowbank is one of those amazing projects.”
Designed and built during the two years of Covid lockdown, off-site manufacturing and the use of local suppliers dramatically reduced waste, embodied energy and revived local manufacturing industries.