Russell Yelland

Stella Maris Parish School Master Plan and Redevelopment

Completed: 2019
Client: Stella Maris Parish School

With Stella Maris Parish School to welcome its first year 6 students in 2019, leadership knew there was more to tackle in the overall design than simply adding on some extra classrooms. Here was a school community known for its inclusive curriculum, yet hampered by obstacles to access and equity in the facility’s design.

What we did: Master planning
Primary school redevelopment
STEM facility
Library and resource centre

We met with students, parents, staff and the school board to discuss future goals and site limitations. We learned that space was at a premium, corridors were narrow and dark, and disability access was limited across five different floor levels. Crucially, there was little connection between classrooms and the main outdoor hard play area. Our design goals were clear: welcome light, hero communal space, and improve connections throughout to ease movement and encourage strong community dynamics.

We proposed removal of some unsuitable rooms to the north, along with a decommissioned administration entry that was a source of confusion for visitors. The existing library was earmarked for conversion into the new Year 6 classrooms, while a new shared library and STEM resource would become a focal point. This flexible and generous space addresses floor level variations and the need for diverse learning zones with tiered seating, nooks and benches.

Skylights now draw daylight deep into the main building, and large glass doors borrow light and link existing rooms with the new shared area. Beyond, ramps, tiered seating and wayside benches have improved opportunities for access and assembly.

Catering to the unique needs of the school’s special education students, we designed a custom building away from the noise and activity of the main building. To support ease of mode transition for these learners, we placed this building in direct connection with outdoor play space. 


Photography credits:Steve Rendoulis