The m3architecture-designed Suncoast Christian College is doing away with typical educational design principles, and instead replacing traditional classrooms with open-plan environments.
Designing to the school’s team-teaching model that is crucial to its pedagogy, the school is tailor-made to suit contemporary learning and teaching styles.
Suncoast Christian College Principal, Greg Mattiske, says the team teaching model delivers the best in social, emotional and academic outcomes for students.
"Today’s students have diverse needs. It's too much for one teacher to have the burden of trying to be all things to all people,” he says.
The school building will accommodate years 1-6, and will be split into three cohorts, with each cohort taught by a team of six teachers and teachers' aides in a dedicated, open-plan space over two levels. A tiered seating area acts as a connective space between the two levels, providing a whole-group meeting place and allowing students to transition between floors seamlessly. Each cohort has its own maker space and kitchen, with an art room and performing art space featured within the building that services the whole primary school.
The steel mesh utilised to wrap the facades is a striking design feature that allows natural ventilation and light penetration, whilst keeping students safe on the airy verandahs located behind it. The mesh allows views to playing fields and trees, connecting students to community and nature.
The Primary School Commons area, used for assemblies and performances, acts as the primary school’s main entry point, effectively greeting parents and students and is a physical reminder of the central role of community to the school.
m3architecture Director, Ben Vielle, says the architecture is a direct response to the school’s location on reclaimed farming land, the climate and the school's culture. The school’s first building was an existing pineapple packing shed.
"Suncoast was founded on the idea of minimal means, with a focus on child development, wellbeing and community. We have respected and developed this ethos," he says.
"The architecture takes its cues from an agricultural attitude and responds to the educational approach."
While team teaching has been around for decades, the unheralded designs will provide a platform for it to reach its full potential. With spaces zoned and furnished to allow for multiple teaching modes, teachers will be able to tailor the program to the abilities and learning styles of individual students.
Mattiske says m3architecture should be praised for embedding the school’s culture and legacy within the design fabric. He notes that conceptual thinking has informed every detail, from the colour schemes, which reference the seasons and local environment, to the pattern on the facade, which alludes to the small and large groups busy inside.
With the project about to go to tender, both School Principal and practice are excited about the designs becoming a reality.
"As Stage One of our master plan, this project has gone way beyond our expectations," says Mattiske.
"I want kids, staff and parents to come to the school and feel excited about this facility, and what m3 has done with the design is absolutely that."