Russell Yelland

Caritas Senior Centre – Nazareth Catholic College, Flinders Park

Completed: 2018
Client: Nazareth Catholic College
Awards:New Construction / New Individual Facility Over $8M, 2019 LEA SA Chapter Awards

When a junior school population booms suddenly, shrewd capital works managers assess their senior school facilities. Caritas Senior Centre at Flinders Park would mark Russell & Yelland’s fifth project with Nazareth Catholic College, so our future-focused design approach came as no surprise to school leadership.

What we did: New build
Secondary school upgrade
Senior student centre
River-inspired design

Several locations were examined before the school settled on a tight, southern wedge of land between the existing gym and Torrens Linear Park. This beautiful tree-lined site next to the River Torrens presented a number of design and logistical challenges, with construction via narrow access likened to building a ship in a bottle. Consequently, our team spent a sizeable proportion of the design phase planning how the building would be built, including the management of complex parking and traffic issues.

With community spirit, student independence and learning space flexibility the priorities, we designed a building more akin to a university learning environment. Breakouts are encouraged at Caritas, where wider corridors foster opportunities for informal gatherings and intimate group work.

Sliding glass partitions extend or close off generous teaching and learning zones, transforming several classrooms into a dynamic, supersized space for all-of-school gatherings and events. A first-floor bridge is a crucial elevated connection, facilitating movement to and from a building that might easily have become an island.

The building’s design demonstrates it values the staff as much as the students. A large new staff room with a balcony overlooks the river and is a much-loved destination for the educational and administrative teams.

Caritas both transports visitors and anchors them to place. Timber elements fork in random directions throughout, referencing the adjacent trees, and the timber “light river” upstairs references the riverside canopy in an inspiring wayfinding device.

Photography credits:Aaron Citti