Aussies Lead in School Design

Ravenswood School library

Australian designers have a strong reputation for producing top quality educational facilities.

Not only is the Aussie design industry producing incredibly modern and aesthetically-pleasing buildings that are improving the productivity and well-being of students, it is now being recognised on both national and international scales more than ever.

Joining the ranks of esteemed Australian educational designs and designers is Ravenswood School’s new library and resource hub by architectural firm BVN. The project stands as the only Australian development to be included in the shortlisted education category for the World Architecture News (WAN) Awards.

The international awards – among the most esteemed in the world – recognise the world’s best in a number of different categories.

As is the trend in modern Australian design, a design focus has been placed on social and environmental sustainability. BVN principal Bill Dowzer explains that “designing in response to the school’s brief resulted in an environment that empowers students and facilitates self-directed learning.”

A central timber staircase leads to the upper level of the library, which allows for a split interior layout, enabling both formal and informal learning.

“By raising the library onto the upper level, we created dramatic cantilevers under which are a number of different spaces protected from the elements where informal learning can take place,” says Dowzer.

Ravenswood School library interior

The double-storey space creates an atmosphere that is light and open, promoting collaborative learning without creating excess noise that would impact productivity.

“Meanwhile it leaves the library floating, with its light, white cladding above the school and incorporates a series of links that finally makes the circulation work in the school,” Dowzer says.

In terms of the building’s environmental sustainability, the focus has been on climate control. Children spend so much of their time in these spaces, and heating and cooling amass both carbon and monetary waste.

Due to this fact, a number of clever sustainable design strategies have been implemented, such as cross-ventilation and the inclusion of a double skin façade to offer prime insulation with the addition of a roof space cavity, which is closed in winter to retain heat and opened in summer to release it.

The designers are hoping for a win at the awards this month, and have marked Ravenswood as the first of many schools to bolster success by relying on these basic design principles.

“Pedagogical theories and technology are rapidly changing the learning environment, and this building is a look into the future of education spaces,” concludes Dowzer.

By Jane Parkins
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