Working collaboratively with TKD Architects, the school community, and NSW Department of Education, a strong focus was placed on the potential of the landscape to create an environment where students would feel comfortable, stimulated, and connected to nature and the surrounding Homebush community.
The landscape establishes a strong identity for the school by referencing the history of the site and the surrounding community. The use of local and recycled materials, gentle manipulation of the topography, a diverse native planting palette, and the concept of ‘landscape as learning’, all reference the site’s natural and cultural heritage—both Indigenous and European—within the context of Homebush.
A prominent north-south pedestrian axis connects the old with the new; integrating existing school buildings with the new learning centre and terminating in a paved courtyard framing the school’s main entrance. This pedestrian spine, highlighted with recycled brick, ends in a radial pattern surrounding the significant existing mature Eucalyptus trees, creating a prominent focal and meeting place adjacent to the new school building. The material palette of recycled brick provides a strong visual connection between old and new while enhancing legibility through the campus.
The landscape design considers the diverse needs of the students throughout the day, and the learning and socialising environments required to support their schooling. A diversity of outdoor spaces, such as active sports, outdoor classrooms, quiet play, refuge areas, and educational spaces like the productive gardens, combine to provide a variety of opportunities for teaching and socialising during, and after, school hours.
The integration of biophilic design principles was vital in creating a strong connection to nature and enhancing the wellbeing of the school community. The landscape design provides places of prospect and refuge, complexity and order, and contact with natural systems to provoke curiosity and interaction with the natural environment.
A native planting palette with a seasonal variety of flowers, textures and colour creates a sense of wonderment, attracts native fauna, immerses students in an urban bushland experience, and fosters a respect for the native Australian landscape.
An indigenous learning trail of endemic and native plant species runs along the boundary of the school. As the trail passes through the ‘Bush Play Garden’, mulch paths and stepping stones allow students to immerse themselves within the garden and discover a micro-botanical world of insects, flower anatomy, and other natural curiosities.
Creating a rooftop play area allowed the school to maximise space and provide outdoor play for students, while also including opportunities for formal group gatherings provided by a shaded tiered amphitheatre. Safety and security was paramount in the rooftop environment, with the fencing ‘camouflaged’ as a trellis structure, creating a green wall perimeter connecting the students to nature whilst providing an effective screen and shade.
Other designers involved in the design of landscape (architects and landscape architects): TKD Architects
Project location: Homebush West, Sydney, Australia
Design year: 2015-2019
Year Built: 2019