Nestled between Lake Kogalup and the natural bushland of Beeliar National Park, 20km south of Perth, is the modern structure of Emmanuel Catholic College, which first opened its doors in 1999 and has now grown to more than 1000 students.
After a gradual increase in student numbers over several years, it became obvious that the campus would benefit from an upgrade and expansion to accommodate the needs of the students and maintain its commitment to the delivery of excellence in education.
Having commissioned Edgar Idle Wade Architects to create their vision for the expanded college, the six-stage build resulted in facilities that encompass a double-story block of classrooms, specialist media labs and offices, a new performing arts building and a sports centre, all of which complement the original building whilst taking the school to new heights.
“The modern 1000sqm multi-level building was designed as a feature on the school campus with classrooms spilling out into an open learning area. The southern side of the vast building is made up predominantly of glass overlooking the playing fields of the school’s oval,” says Mark Hutchison, State Sales Manager, Knauf Australia.
“While an alternate perforated plasterboard product was originally selected for the plasterboard ceiling lining, Knauf’s Stratopanel was ultimately used to provide a seamless and continuous perforated finish even where access panels were situated. The end result looks superb and meets the needs of the large fan shaped building.”
Stratopanel, Knauf’s perforated plasterboard that provides excellent acoustic performance, was the perfect choice for this project, which included large open-plan learning spaces. The ceiling lining needed to cope with the noise that accompanies this type of environment. Stratopanel also includes CLEANEO Technology which has built-in air purification to reduce smells and airborne pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), improving the overall air quality in the building.
Working with Universal Constructions and JPM Ceilings, who were commissioned to manage the installation of the extensive wall and ceilings package in the new learning space, the Knauf engineers considered several solutions to providing an aesthetically pleasing result in a space that, whilst beautiful, presented many construction challenges. Perhaps the most challenging area of the build was securing Stratopanel to the solid plasterboard ceiling margins.
“Because of the unique fan shaped design to the building, almost no two walls were the same angle,” says Mark. “The first solution that we considered for this was to import frieze tape from Germany to trial on the angled joints. However, although this may be a product for future projects, we ultimately determined that this wasn’t the best option on this build.”
Using their 30 years’ experience in carpentry and ceiling installation, JPM Ceilings and the Knauf team, in particular Mark Hutchinson, collaborated on an alternative solution that adapted Knauf’s Uniflott Jointing Compound, a plaster-based cement, rather than taping. This created a smooth transitioning joint from the margin to the perforated plasterboard.
“The biggest challenge was that the building was a curved shape with a downward raking ceiling. This meant the Stratopanel got lower as it went around the curve, which was very difficult to keep in a decent plane and keep the Stratopanel square,” says Jason Millar from JPM Ceilings.
“We also had some very tight curved bulkheads which were even too tight for 6mm flexible plasterboard. But we managed to install multiple layers of 3mm MDF onto a Knauf framing system that we adapted.”
To ensure that the perforation pattern of the ceiling panels was perfectly aligned, the team at JPM Ceilings cut the Stratopanel boards on angles to suit the various room shapes and created an engineered FF edge in conjunction with the Uniflott, resulting in a seamless aesthetic that provides high acoustic performance and minimises any glancing light issues.
“Glancing light can highlight the joints between boards, casting shadows on the plasterboard and causing it to look unsightly. The angles of the building and extent of the large windows, including the highlight windows designed to capture the sun on the north side, could all create potential glancing light problems. The combined use of Uniflott and the FF edge ensured that the installers achieved a jointless and flawless appearance,” Mark added.
With the project completed on time and on budget, despite the many challenges offered by the multi-faceted and multi-angled building, everyone who worked on the building can be extremely proud of the end result which provides future generations of students with world-class learning facilities.