St Monica’s Parish Primary School is situated in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne, in Moonee Ponds, with heritage dating back to 1856. Over the last 30 years, the school has undergone extensive renovations from the amalgamation of the girls’ and boys’ schools, to the construction of the Junior School, refurbishment of the tuckshop and year three and four Middle School, to the construction of the Senior Centre in late 2015.
Working with architects Baldasso Cortese, the building works for the Senior Centre saw the infill of an under-utilised outdoor courtyard for the years five and six students. The Senior Centre provides an indoor space for the 150 seniors that increases and diversifies their learning environment. The modern multi-function area accommodates six acoustically separated classrooms, a large central shared open learning area, and a presentation space.
The Senior Centre development followed the construction of the Middle School Building Project which won an ‘Award for Renovation – Modernisation of a school’ and winner of the 2012 Best Renovation in Victoria for the CEFPI Victorian Chapter. These major works brought St Monica’s into the 21st Century while still respecting the school’s profound heritage.
“One of the key considerations when building or upgrading a public area is managing the acoustics. Schools have the challenge that they are intended for study, but are often noisy with large numbers of students in one place at any one time,” said Gabriella Muto, Architect at Baldasso Cortese Architects.
“We had used Stratopanel from Knauf previously and knew that the acoustic perforated plasterboard would work well in this environment and be perfect for the classroom and presentation spaces,” Gabriella continues.
Stratopanel provides exceptional acoustic performance ideal for schools and other busy commercial public areas such as conference halls and hospitality spaces. It is also the world’s first acoustic wall and ceiling lining with built-in air purification.
One of the main features of the Senior Centre is a feature curved ceiling, with pebble shaped coffers and skylights with a steel structural support behind. The Stratopanel allowed excellent acoustic performance while also allowing the architectural feature of the curved ceiling to be achieved due to the flexibility in the material. The perforations from Stratopanel had to be lined up perfectly to produce a seamless finish that brought the ceiling to life.
The Senior Centre provides three year five, three year six classrooms as well as a 75-tiered seat presentation space, a multi- functional wet area, a shared modern learning environment with two custom joinery items – The Learning Lounge and The Campfire – which encourage group learning as well as private study. The interaction between these spaces creates a learning community that allows the Senior Centre to facilitate diverse learning possibilities.
“The Senior Centre allows a flexible interchange between class based learning to collaborative group work spaces, presentation or individual learning. St Monica’s newest development ensures the potential for future growth and promotes a rich mature learning philosophy amongst its senior students,” says Gabriella.