Russell Yelland

St Gabriel Centre – Nazareth Catholic College, Underdale

Completed: 2021
Client: Nazareth Catholic College, Underdale
Awards:Winner, EmAGN Project Award, 2022 SA Architecture Awards
Commendation, Renovation/Modernisation over $5M, 2021 LEA SA Chapter Awards

Most recently an office complex, this 1990s building required gutting and a complete fit-out. As an interim home for Year 12s, the plan is more tertiary in feel, with collaborative, open spaces introducing students to more of what they can expect beyond secondary school.

What we did: Secondary school upgrade
Satellite facility
STEAM learning
Flexible accommodation

Experience told us that sociability would be as important as opportunities for collaborative learning for this age group. We designed considerable open shared space on the first floor, while a generous café with booth seating and standing desks with charging stations has proved popular for more relaxed gatherings on the ground level.

Working within the original concrete shell, we applied careful acoustic treatments to the walls and ceilings, minimising noise transfer where breakouts and collaborations might occur in proximity. Dropped feature ceilings and geometric patterned lighting displays suspend above hospitable zones, playfully demarcating the booths from circulation, and riffing off chevron noise-dampening wall treatments in school colours.

First floor STEM laboratories are flexible and – in a daring move – completely open to breakouts. The increased collaboration between students and teaching staff between classes has been a noticeable benefit here.

Landscaping and improved visual and physical connections with outdoor areas expands on function with little change to the footprint. Accommodating up to 400 students, St Gabriel’s can now operate as either a STEAM learning campus or all-ages overflow as the new Kidman Park campus begins development. Such options are a timetabling delight.

Photography credits:Sam Noonan