ARM is creating contemporary environments for learning, performing and working at this Melbourne independent school.
St Leonard’s College has 1600 students from Early Learning to Year 12.
Its campus has gracious heritage buildings and newer ones designed sympathetically to the old.
Our first completed work at St Leonard’s is an interior design project.
We have fitted out a new junior library, an underused courtyard that has been converted into a STEM lab, and two learning spaces for Year 2.
We also established a new main reception point at the South Road entrance and new offices for junior school and administration staff within an existing building.
The new junior library joins the Year 2 classrooms and the main corridor, so students wander through and can read and borrow whenever they choose.
It has a teaching amphitheatre that fits a whole class, small tables with surfaces you can write on, and a variety of inviting places to sit and read.
There are bench seats, booths, and upholstered nooks in exciting shapes cut out of the bookshelves.
Young children tend to be attracted to warm colours, but too much colour can be overstimulating. Therefore, all the spaces have mainly timber or neutral finishes with some colourful furniture and joinery.
We found a children’s puzzle, Grimm’s Spiel und Holtz Design’s Stacking Flower, and used its colour scheme throughout the new spaces.
(Right: Stacking Flower by Grimm’s Spiel und Holtz Design)
“The final verdict, delivered by our students, was summed up by the one word heard repeatedly on the opening day of these new spaces: ‘Wow!’”
—St Leonard’s College
St Leonard’s College offers an extensive performing arts and music program. It has outgrown its existing arts spaces, and we have been engaged to design a 600-seat stand-alone performing arts facility called the Leonardian.
It’s a purpose-built, technologically contemporary venue for St Leonard’s to host theatrical and musical performances.
Aptly for a performing arts venue, the Leonardian’s design concept started with Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. We imagined unrolling the Globe circle into an S and wrapping it around a box-shaped auditorium. Some corners of the auditorium poked out, unwrapped.
Finally we sliced away sections of the Globe wrapping, leaving large vertical faces. We filled these with glazing shielded by a transparent metallic screen. These vast windows offer views to the rest of the campus so the building feels engaged with everyday student life.
We chose the Globe also because the shape of its gabled roof is similar to that of Harefield House, the 1890 building that is central to the St Leonard’s campus character.
Inside, the auditorium has flexible acoustic technology and is carefully designed to accommodate multiple performance types.
It is also a teaching space where students can learn lighting and sound engineering, audio recording and set design. The stage and seating are fully accessible for students with disabilities or limited mobility.
The auditorium has the traditional shoebox shape that acoustic experts worldwide agree is the most successful model. The 3D patterns on the walls optimise the acoustics. They look like a collection of ornate, oversized skirting boards with a repeating graphic made from elements of the St Leonard’s crest.
St Leonard’s new Year 12 spaces are designed to prepare students for tertiary education and, in turn, for the contemporary workplace. They encourage the working styles and habits that students will soon encounter.
All are in a new building.
There will be 11 learning areas for 22 students each, breakout spaces, nine study nooks for group work, and a multi-purpose area for English and humanities, a university-style lecturette for 60.
There will be a dedicated exam room that accommodates an entire year level and can also be used for functions.
We are delivering several new outdoor learning spaces for the senior school.
The main one is a courtyard/gathering area called the Agora. It’s approximately 30m across, located at the junction of the Leonardian and the new Year 12 building. It has a small outdoor stage and a big screen for myriad uses, including telecasting events happening in the Leonardian.
There’s also a new promenade between the Leonardian and the heritage Harefield House, and a mews with an external lecture space just north of the new Year 12 building.
These new facilities will add to an attractive, cohesive campus that respects the history of St Leonard’s and looks to the future.
Construction will be finished in 2020.