A new library and multi-purpose hall at the International Grammar School in Sydney’s inner city can be clipped together and then taken apart if required

CASE STUDY – 27 August 2009 – Who says a fast-designed, fast built school constructed under the federal government’s Building the Education Revolution program, can’t be sustainable and innovative.

At Ultimo in Sydney’s inner west a new primary school library and multi-purpose hall designed by Allen Jack+Cottier will feature a “kit of parts” that means the school can be clipped together and then taken apart if required.

It will have “amorphous holes” punched through pre-coloured solid concrete walls to allow in light and it will include a range of additional sustainable features.

AJ+C principal Michael Heenan worked with the client, the International Grammar School, in a project that has defied expectations that the BER would result in only expedient designs.

Designing the building to be delivered within the strict time and cost constraints of the BER budget was challenging, Mr Heenan said, but the environmentally sustainable principles incorporated in the design were “proof that progressive and forward thinking ideas were are not lost in the rush to produce new school infrastructure.”

He said: “This truly sustainable building has the potential to supply some of its own power, collect and reuse rain water, and grow fresh produce for cooking classes.

“The design allows for a high level of natural light and ventilation, reducing energy use. The building also offers itself as a local hall and library, increasing its utilisation and provides amenity for the local community.”
Key features are:
•    The building has been designed to be totally adaptable to other uses over the course of its lifetime. It is made of a “kit of parts” which can be easily clipped together and taken apart in the future if required. The use of these “kit parts” will minimise onsite trades and possible contamination by fabricating the wall panels in a stable controlled environment.
•    The kit of parts building is made of identical precast concrete panels and floor planks, not so different from a tilt up factory building, but with a twist. These panels are insulated, minimising energy consumption by effective thermal performance.
•    Reverse brick veneer is the most thermally efficient construction method in temperate climates such as Sydney. The insulated wall panels comprise a thicker internal concrete skin which provides excellent thermal mass, a layer of insulation and a thin external skin, the street veneer. This arrangement mirrors the reverse brick veneer principles but in a precast wall system.
•    The building offers mixed-mode air-conditioning which allows for the powered mechanical system to be turned off, but operable windows and louvres to the facades can still open for natural self-ventilation.
•    The windows are amorphous holes punched in to the pre-coloured solid concrete walls, a theme also seen in the AJ+C award-winning Sports and Recreation Hall in Berry NSW. These holes allow for more light, contributing to the energy saving potential of the design. The high degree of natural light which these holes provide and combined with the opened planning, can supply the building with natural light for most parts of the day, reducing the use of the electrical lighting system, again increasing energy efficiency of the building.
•    The photovoltaic panel arrays on the roof of the building can generate power which can be fed back into the grid in periods of surplus, reducing costs and consumption.
•    The ground floor landscape strip softens the junction between the building and the street. These gardens lead into the art and craft rooms with the potential for students to grown their own produce for their cooking classes.
tperinotto@thefifthestate.com.au

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