A lot can happen in 90 days. In these uncertain times, we’re all hoping (and praying) that a three-month window will be enough to get Australia, and the world, back on track and keep the dreaded COVERT-19 virus under control.

Although 90 days might seem an eternity, I’d like to lift the mood and share a project born out of disaster and completed in a similar timeframe, and perhaps inspire you to consider what can you could do to help make a better world in just 90 days.

When fire struck St Brigid’s in 2018, Sydney Catholic Schools called on JDH Architects to help with the rescue. Luckily none of the students or staff were hurt in the fire, but the school library was burned beyond repair.

With the safety of the school community paramount, the area was quickly secured. Once the smoke settled, the JDH team was brought in to assess the damage and reimagine the space to allow the school to do what they do best; to deliver excellent teaching and learning.

With a true community spirit, everyone at St Brigid’s rallied together to impart insight and share knowledge, and it soon became apparent that the devastating fire could be the catalyst for change. We needed to rethink not only the where but also the how learning happened in the school.

At JDH, whatever size the project we always masterplan a school before jumping in with design. With a belief that good ideas come from collaboration, we engaged in quick-fire listening and learning sessions with the teachers and students that challenged our point of view and sparked our imagination.

The stories and experience of the school community led us to look for new ideas and innovations in order to co-create learning spaces and promote the collaboration required to embed deeper learning.

This project is a testament to my strong belief that when learning spaces are co-created by school, community and architect the process AND the finished product can embody the key attributes required for successful teaching, learning, innovating, creating, making, and exploring.

Before

After

Whilst master plans are often triggered by a school building program, it is important to first interrogate the strengths, weakness, opportunities and perceived threats of your existing campus.

Example strengths

Distinctive civic frontage, a strong historic style or sense of sporting / academic tradition.

Example weaknesses

Legacy of mis-matched architectural building styles, with no coherent narrative for learning.

Hard to navigate to and through eclectic and outdated buildings and external areas.

Example opportunities

Unification of a campus through the integration of both indoor and outdoor space.

Maximising potential and celebrating the schools heart by realising value from under-utilised land.

Bringing new life to tired buildings through refurbishment and re-imaging of space.

The master plan outlined the need for connected learning and the project morphed into a 2 staged build with the old library space being transformed into stage 3 learning, and the library being relocated with music into the decanted year 5 & 6 classrooms.

LIBRARY

In just 90 days stage one was completed and 40 days later the new library was opened.

Students and staff now have new teaching and learning spaces that foster the engagement, curiosity and the entrepreneurial spirit that the project embodied as well as collaborative and creative learning spaces across the school.

What might you do in the next 90 days to change the way you think and learn in your workplace or school community?