From the architect:
Completed in 2021, Our Lady of Mercy College (OLMC) required a dynamic, future-focused design, art and technology (DAT) building that integrated seamlessly into its growing campus. ClarkeHopkinsClarke has been working closely with the school community for 15 years to masterplan and guide the modernisation of its campus.
The new DAT hub unites specialised spaces for photography, food technology, textile design, allied health, art, VCAL and general learning across three levels, increasing interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-pollination.
Spaces centre around a large void that naturally illuminates the ground floor and visually connects every level. Versatile, shared collaborative zones connect learning areas on each level, while nooks, booths and tiered seating provide spaces for quiet reflection and support diverse learning modes. Staff facilities on each level enhance student connection and enable passive supervision.
The floorplan wraps specialist learning spaces around the perimeter and shared collaborative zones around the central void. Specialist spaces break the mold of traditional classrooms with adaptable design elements that can be used creatively by multiple disciplines. In the food tech and art rooms, for example, boundaries blur and learning can spill into adjoining collaborative zones for demonstrations. Hence a dark wall in the food tech room can become a backdrop for visual arts students to photograph edible creations.
The central collaborative zones also serve multiple purposes, drawing people out to work together and learn in different ways. Large pivot walls can function as a gallery to celebrate student work, or push back and open up for exhibitions and events. Two-way glass cabinetry provides another option to showcase ever-changing student work, instilling a sense of pride and aspiration.
A large glass pod - the third-level home to Health Sciences, occupied by an allied health room – is visible from below and puts active learning on display. This energises space and learners alike, enabling inspiring activities that challenge learners to explore possibilities.
The design response celebrates the dynamic intersection of art, design and technology, the benefits of co-location, and the educational value of space and learning that flows.
The ethos of connectivity in all its forms provided our starting point, and circulation and navigation throughout the campus became a core objective. A new Sky Bridge links the DAT building to the wider campus, enhancing circulation on level one, creating sightlines across campus, and activating the ground plane.