The Noosa Flexible Learning Centre project by Australian architecture firm, Fulton Trotter Architects (FTA) has won a top education architecture award at the 2015 Association for Learning Environments (ALE) Annual Conference and Expo . 

FTA was the only Australian architecture firm to receive a prize at the awards ceremony, held in San Diego in conjunction with the conference and expo. The Noosa Flexible Learning Centre received one of five 'Project of Distinction: New Construction' prizes handed out by the program's organisers.

Thomson Adsett’s Loreto College project in Brisbane and two Victorian schools by Clarke Hopkins Clarke Architects -The Brighton Grammar Middle School and The Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences – were also entered in the 2015 ALE-run awards but were unsuccessful.


Photography by Angus Martin

The Noosa Flexible Learning Centre is part of the Youth Plus network of schools run by Edmund Rice Education Australia.

Fulton Trotter Architects’ Director, Mark Trotter explains that the $3.5 million learning centre has successfully created an alternative learning environment for disengaged and disadvantaged youth. Describing the centre as an asset to both the social and environmental fabric of the Sunshine Coast community, Trotter said that the alternative nature of the Flexible Learning Centre has been a wonderful opportunity to push the boundaries of the conventional notion of ‘school’ and explore new educational design possibilities at their most fundamental level.


Angus-Martin.jpgPhotography by Angus Martin

The Noosa Flexible Learning Centre by Bligh Tanner Consulting Engineers, Fulton Trotter Architects and InSiteEMLA for Edmund Rice Education offers a welcoming and distinctly non-institutional learning environment for disenfranchised youth in Noosa.

The project's stormwater strategy uses low-impact design approaches to mimic the site's natural hydrology, thereby avoiding the need for any underground pipes or stormwater infrastructure. It is a great example of how good design can achieve better environmental outcomes at lower costs.

This project is important as it demonstrates that stormwater quality and hydrology can be managed in a way which exceeds best practice standards, while also reducing development costs.

  • Maintaining ground-level permeability across 90 per cent of the site
  • Developing approximately 1/3 of the site with buildings on raised piers (consistent with a Noosa beach-house feel) to preserve ground level infiltration characteristics, large areas of vegetation and shallow tree roots
  • A carpark made of permeable pavement to avoid stormwater runoff
  • Roofwater runoff captured in rainwater tanks
  • A 20 per cent reduction of peak flows (based on a hydrological analysis)
  • The overall water quality performance was analysed and found to exceed best practice load reductions for total suspended solids, total phosphorus and total nitrogen
  • The use of lightweight, raised construction (in favour of slab-on-ground)
  • Extensive roofwater capture and reuse
  • Infiltration of surplus roofwater into soils beneath buildings
  • Trafficable, permeable paving
  • No underground stormwater pipes
  • The site design mimics the natural hydrology of the site through avoiding ground-level impervious surfaces and capture and reuse of roofwater. Pre-and post development flow frequency curves are almost identical

The Noosa Flexible Learning Centre has received several industry awards including an Australian Institute of Architects 2015 Sunshine Coast Regional Commendation and the Stormwater Queensland 2014 Award for Excellence in Integrated Stormwater.

Photography by Angus Martin (unless stated)