Featuring a Biology superlab, balcony rainforest and woodlands ecosystems, St Patrick’s College Sutherland’s new Alpha Crucis building is a game-changer for the sciences and applied studies.
The innovative building design is the result of a collaboration between St Pat’s teachers, school leadership, Sydney Catholic Schools and JDH Architects.
The building design also includes three industry-standard kitchens for Hospitality and Food Technology, two floors of contemporary learning spaces with breakout areas, multipurpose areas and a textiles room.
Electric vehicle chargers are among the markers of the facilities’ sustainability credentials.
But it is the flexibility of the spaces that has teachers excited to hold classes in the building in the upcoming school year.
The existing tree line provides a natural canopy for St Patrick’s College Sutherland’s new five-level Alpha Crucis building, while blue aluminium fins complement its radiant white facade.
The Hospitality Room’s commercial kitchen fit out includes a full cooking line with combi ovens, bratt pans, deep fryers and a commercial coffee machine. The space will be utilised by students obtaining a Certificate II in Kitchen Operations.
FLEXIBLE LEARNING SPACES
From 2022, Year 11 and 12 students at the college – across Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental, Physics, and Science Extension – will have use of six purpose-built science labs. These areas will also be accessible to more than 900 Year 7 to 10 students.
The Physics lab has movable desks to allow space for practical lessons using ramps, trolleys and data loggers to understand gravity and motion. The Earth and Environmental Science lab has a university lecture theatre-style set-up.
“So often, labs are all designed the same way, and it usually represents what is needed for Chemistry, so we designed our labs to cater for the requirements of all sciences,” St Patrick’s Science coordinator, Jennifer Ming, said.
“Having access for students to see sustainability in action, too, will have definite impacts on their learning” – Jennifer Ming
The Earth/Physics Laboratory was designed to mimic a university lecture theatre. It provides the floor space required for Physics practicals using ramps and data loggers, and the theoretical work in Earth and Environmental Science.
Clear perspex over the Biology lab gas and electrical fittings provides students with another opportunity to observe, question and learn about their environment.
Rainforest and woodlands ecosystems make use of the balcony space outside of the Biology labs, creating opportunities for students to go outdoors to dissect flowers, measure abiotic features including soil pH (acidity or alkalinity), temperature, humidity and wind speed.
The labs’ internal services are observable through design features, such as the clear perspex surrounds of the gas piping and electrical cabling.
The Science prep room is a space for teachers to trial experiments prior to lessons, and for students to collaborate with teachers and lab technicians to develop their depth studies projects.
Flexible areas promote collaborative learning, critical thinking, creativity and problem solving.
The building also brings the promise of collaboration with students from local primary schools.
“Students take more ownership and pride in their learning if they know they will have to teach the concept to a younger student,” Ms Ming said.
“COVID has impacted this collaboration, but hopefully we can connect more with our feeder schools through the use of these labs.”
THE FUTURE IS NOW
Principal Janine Kenney said the new facilities were first envisioned more than 20 years ago in one of four master plans for the St Patrick’s site and looked forward to seeing great learning take place in them.
“These are state-of-the-art facilities which will enhance the teaching and learning experiences of both staff and students … [and be] a joy to learn and work in,” Ms Kenney said.
“I cannot wait for our students to begin using the various aspects of this beautiful building.”