Russell Yelland

Concordia – St John’s, new canopy and connections upgrade

Completed: 2016
Client: Concordia College, St John's Campus, Highgate

Shelter sheds of old are remembered as dark, dismal spaces, strewn with chip packets and fallen leaves.

At Concordia’s St John’s campus, we converted a rundown common area into a bright and flexible indoor/outdoor zone for all seasons learning, gathering and play.

What we did: Primary school refurbishment,
Courtyard design
Cross-campus connections

The redesign responded to a master plan for the school in 2013 that highlighted a need for more diverse, comfortable and attractive spaces for learning, and increased opportunities for nature interaction.

On arrival at the Highgate Street entry, visitors are now met with tree-like columns reaching to a bright polycarbonate canopy peppered with coloured infill panels. Sandwiched between the two main buildings, the canopy lifts the school’s street presence at the point of entry, but also provides all-weather passage for students, staff and visitors moving between the buildings.

The walkway opens out as an expansive covered courtyard, well-protected from the westerly winds that whip across the oval. The area quickly became a popular alternative learning space and informal parents’ meeting hub. Also well-utilised during breaks, it is a popular location for quieter games, creative play and construction activities.

Fragmented by varying ground levels, the existing courtyard was uninviting, dominated by a central 1970s toilet block. Demolition of the ablutions allowed us to maximise the available space and introduce new sightlines through to the oval from the point of entry.

The canopy wraps down to meet large format sliding doors on the oval sidewhich can secure the courtyard at night, or peel back to welcome the outdoors in on fine days. Level paving has improved all abilities access, too, continuous from the Highgate Street entry to the northern building’s western access point.

smaller new toilet block, additional storerooms, and a façade upgrade on the northern side of the existing classrooms completed the project. In these light-filled learning areas, we replaced windows with doors, vastly improving access to outdoor space where another new paved and landscaped zone welcomes nature interaction. 


Photography credits:Michael Bodroghy