As part of the Federal Government’s BER initiative, this small private school, in Sydney’s northern suburbs, identified the need for a multi-purpose hall to serve both primary and secondary students. The project had a very tight budget. However, the Client requested that the multi-purpose hall be designed in such a way as to create opportunities for expansion to meet the rapidly growing need for further space on the school campus.
The architects, Jones Sonter, developed a concept for the project which elevates the main hall floor, thus unlocking a multitude of possibilities for the core building and its future potential for additional learning spaces. The key to the design solution was the discovery of unstable ground conditions, which required piling to support a suspended ground slab. The design logic that followed from this was that if structural necessity dictated that the concrete slab was suspended anyway, it may as well be suspended well above the ground so that the resulting undercroft space could be available for future expansion.
From this it was evident that by simply lifting the main floor on columns, a grand stair and stepped seating could be designed at the entry to the building and by extending the roof over this space, an external shaded assembly area was created. In this way the school got a bonus space that served a variety of functions: a shaded and stepped seating area; a sheltered outdoor assembly space; a place for staging theatrical events; a grandstand for the adjacent sports area; a highly visible point of orientation and an entry which conveyed an imposing sense of arrival for events in the hall.
The site is located on a plateau overlooking Sydney’s northern beaches and as a result it benefits from regular ocean breezes. As sustainability and low energy use was a central concern of the project, the hall was designed with both low and high level windows, primarily to allow for good cross-flow ventilation at the floor level and natural discharge of warm air at the ceiling level. Sensitivity to natural ventilation is complemented by high levels of natural light, which further assist in reducing energy consumption.
The main hall interior incorporates a sports floor, marked for eight games, including basketball and badminton. Viewing floors are provided at two levels along one side of the courts. At the ground level, amenities and stores are provided, together with a gymnasium for senior students and staff.
The design for future expansion proved to be a worthwhile exercise, as it was decided, prior to completion off the main building programme, that the undercroft area would be immediately in-filled with new student learning spaces for design technology, with an outlook to the neighboring golf course.
Jones Sonter are an award winning Sydney based firm of architects and urban designers with a range of clients in the government, institutional and private sectors.
+ PROJECT CREDITS / DATA
Northern Beaches Christian School Multi-purpose Hall
Architect: Jones Sonter Archhitecture + Urbanism
Design Team: Kim Jones, Brad Sonter, Julianne Hughes & Jasmine Yeung
Photographer: Simon Wood
+ ABOUT Jones Sonter Architecture + Urbanism
Jones Sonter is a firm of chartered architects with particular expertise in urban design, strategic masterplanning and project management. The firm is committed to a design approach that integrates the practice of architecture and urban design with principles of social and ecological sustainment.
The firm believes that excellence in architecture and urban design rests on a comprehensive understanding of human needs and aspirations within a specific context of environmental conditions and requirements. The firm has found that each project has a solution that is unique to its time and place. Hence it does not align work with stylistic trends, preferring instead to let the project reflect its own particular origin and process.
We subscribe to the simple philosophy that ‘design is common sense’, and we bring a logical and rigorous approach to each individual design task. With every project the firm is committed to a design outcome that is comprehensively informed by the clients brief, guided by a strong central idea, conditioned by the demands of the program and budget, and shaped by the character of the site and logic of construction.
Jones Sonter is a partnership practice based around a core team of experienced professionals with a range of complementary skills acquired in major planning and development projects. The strengths of the firm lie principally in two areas. One is the ability to integrate the needs of multiple stakeholder client entities through an accountable brief development process. The other is the experience to coordinate, manage and creatively harness the skills of multi-disciplinary design teams on large scale projects.