St Joseph’s School Hectorville Learning Building

Completing Stage 3 of its master plan, the new general learning building is the first major two-storey development for St Joseph’s School Hectorville. The contemporary learning building fosters student engagement by promoting sociability, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

The new building provides eight modern learning areas, out-of-school hours care (OSHC) facilities, and allied health consulting rooms, catering to the school’s growing student population in the northeastern suburbs. The light-filled general learning areas are connected by a contemporary learning commons, offering various group spaces, quiet study areas, and media nooks tailored to the school’s pedagogy.

Kaurna Country
Hectorville, South Australia
St Joseph’s School
Project Contact
Shalini Shah
David Sievers, Simon Bennett
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A thoughtful and sustainable design 

The site’s layout, positioned amidst residential neighbours and existing school buildings, necessitated an elongated east-west orientation. The building’s architecture, with its deep overhangs and north-facing skillion roofs, was purposefully designed to provide shade to the western glass and bring natural light deep into the floorplate and to the heart of the learning commons and general learning areas. Light-filled and spacious is a cohesive theme throughout the design.

The two entry stairways create a visual connection with the main internal paths of the school. A perforated screen shields the western glass and displays the school’s branding while offering a filtered backdrop to the internal circulation spines.

Significant emphasis was placed on sustainable design principles, encompassing factors such as roof orientation to accommodate future photovoltaic (PV) cells, provision of filtered light and natural ventilation, utilisation of locally sourced and durable building materials, and ensuring ease of access for building maintenance to minimise ongoing costs for the school.

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Innovative teaching environments that move away from the conventional classroom model

The internal layout strategically clusters general learning areas to facilitate team teaching, fostering visual and physical connectivity with the spacious, light-filled learning commons.

Aligned with modern pedagogical approaches, the learning commons transitions seamlessly into smaller, specialised spaces tailored for larger gatherings, focused study sessions, and media alcoves. This design utilises variations in materials and scale to offer a rich and diverse learning environment, accommodating a wide range of educational activities.

The central gathering lounge area, designed for group presentations, offers an opportunity for connection with an outdoor learning area. Study nodes strategically flank the circulation space, offering areas for collaborative workshops among small groups or independent study sessions. The media nooks nestle into the floor plan and offer low stimulus respite with subdued lighting, perfect for screen use or quiet contemplation.

Natural timber, complemented by accent colours mirroring the school’s brand, infuses the space with warm and vibrant tones. The incorporation of soft curves in joinery, coupled with meticulous attention to acoustic treatments, fosters a serene and immersive learning environment.

The new learning building at St. Joseph’s School Hectorville plays a vital role in accommodating the increasing enrolments, ensuring the school keeps pace with demand. It offers a sustainable and modern learning environment that aligns with the school’s values and enhances its teaching methods. This contemporary setting caters to the diverse needs of today’s learners, reflecting the school’s commitment to delivering quality education.

Paurav Joshi

Graduate of Architecture, Adelaide