Arcadia Landscape Architecture: Translated to ‘dare to do, as much as you can’, the Saint Ignatius motto encourages students to push their limits and strive their hardest, whilst respecting the qualities and traditions written deep into the fabric of the school. When Arcadia was engaged by St Ignatius to undertake a landscape masterplan and detailed design for the Therry Courtyard, the team immediately saw the potential to create a space that brought the school motto to life. The creation of the new space gave the opportunity to use an innovative approach to challenge the parameters of what constitutes learning space within a school campus. Extension of teaching space was a priority to the landscape approach. Arcadia created an outdoor space to complement the new Therry Building, delivering a collaborative environment which would bring to life the teaching potential of the courtyard. The success of the new space uses biophilic design to provide a connection to the natural surrounds, thus helping strengthen the capacity for creativity, focus and wellbeing for the boys. By creating a sense of place, the Therry Courtyard also reinforces the House pastoral care system, which is at the core of the College, with a creation of clear, accessible and inviting spaces that provide a “home-base” for students. These are places which enable the boys to come together as part of the overall community, as well as somewhere to retreat, reflect, socialise and belong.
The master plan process presented an opportunity for Arcadia to engage with the School to enrich the outcome. By involving teachers and staff in the design, the team was able to gather valuable information about pedagogy and insights into the potential of the spaces to be provided for teaching and learning. Arcadia engaged the students in all phases of design, development and construction, aiming to create a sense of ownership that will foster care in the years to come. An innovative strategy overcame the confined site footprint and challenging topography. Application of a modular stacking form across a sloping site ensures the whole space is being used to its full potential. By creating a variety of quality open spaces, the landscape has allowed the school to extend the teaching and learning opportunities, with active and passive recreation spaces increasing from 14 to 24 learning areas. The layout of the landscape infrastructure creates engaging spaces that are optimally sized for collaborative learning. The modular nature allows adaptability as teaching and learning styles evolve. Sustainable features also help with interactive learning and understanding of environmental concepts, landscape systems, ecology and biodiversity through the endemic planting strategy and WSUD strategies.
There is a growing recognition of the importance in creating a sense of place for students – it can help strengthen their sense of belonging, develop their personal identity and inspire stewardship. A sense of place has been achieved through a combination of material selection, spatial orientation and level management, creating views across the axis of the site. The site of Riverview, with its open views to playing fields and bushland to the west, and city skyline views framing existing school buildings to the east, provided plenty of opportunity for the inclusion of biophilic design elements to connect the students with their natural surroundings. Visually, students are strongly aware of their location with views across the axis of the site, from bushland to city. Previously not possible, these views have been achieved through Arcadia’s careful spatial orientation and level management. A stronger connection to the surrounding national park is achieved through the clever use of materials and levels to create a ‘one of a kind’ landscape experience that is drawn from the school’s philosophies and locally sourced resources. A variety of robust materials, including concrete, hardwood timber, and natural stone, make up a cohesive palette that will maintain their desired appearance throughout time, so landscape features will be readily available in the years to come.
Once the lunchtime bell rings, the importance of the selection of robust materials becomes immediately obvious, as the space is transformed into a parkour course by the students!
Arcadia’s design approach and vision has delivered an area that has been embraced by all for innovative learning activities and a more playful way to circulate around the school. Accessible and inviting spaces provide a “home-base” for boys, enabling students to come together as part of the overall community, or for somewhere to retreat, reflect, socialise and belong.
Short office name: Arcadia Landscape Architecture
Role of your office in the project: Landscape Architect
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: PMDL
Project location: Tambourine Bay Road, Riverview, Sydney, Australia
Design year: 2015
Year Built: 2018
Photo credits: Paul McMillan