2019 National Architecture Awards: The Daryl Jackson Award for Educational Architecture

Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School by BVN.

Jury citation

Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School delivers a high-quality and safe learning environment for a growing and vibrant student community in Sydney’s west. The architecture, which implements a careful spatial program that facilitates a deep learning experience, both informs and is derived from the pedagogy of the school.

In this project, BVN has demonstrated, through design research, genuine collaboration and a future-focused strategy, an exemplary approach to radically transforming existing buildings for new functions. The architects have used a methodical approach to materialism and spatial crafting, and they aimed for ambitious sustainability targets in their adaptation of the 1970s Telstra training centre. The result provides innovative, uplifting and inherently flexible learning spaces that will serve the school well into the future.

Internal spatial relationships have been reconfigured through a series of vertical and horizontal circulation spaces that also serve as learning areas, places for congregation and display, and backdrops to the energetic life of their inhabitants. A four-storey atrium links these spaces, creating flexible, open and naturally lit places for learning and support.

Relentless research and development throughout the design phases demonstrated the clear benefits of the use of timber in learning spaces in terms of wellness and educational outcomes. The resultant all-timber interiors – both expressed structure and surface linings – create warm and inviting spaces. Classroom edges have welcome access to large outdoor learning and play spaces, with an emphasis on natural light and fresh air.

The use of a prefabricated cross-laminated timber floor and acoustic ceiling panel components required a commitment from both the architects and the client that is to be commended. This exceptional project speaks to the strength of the client–architect relationship and the contribution of the entire consultant team, which enabled an openness to ideas that create spaces for a new type of learning. Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School sets a new benchmark for the emerging vertical school typology through the transformative power of great design.

Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School is located in North Strathfield, New South Wales, and built on the land of the Wangal people of the Eora nation.


Project Team
Julian Ashton (principal), Knut Menden (project director), Adriana Haindl, Alan Monckton-Milnes, Barry Cantor, Fiona Young, Jamie Don, Jamie Yoo, Jonathan Capparelli, Kim Small, Lucy Rimmer, Mateusz Sum, Patrik Typpo, Sara Pellegrini, Woramon Chanakitkarnchai
BCA consultant BCA Logic
Builder Stephen Edwards Constructions
Certifier Group DLA
DDA Consultant Accessible Building Solutions
Fire engineer Arup
Fire services Olsson Fire and Risk
Hydraulic engineer AJ Whipps Consulting Group, AJ Smith
Mechanical, electrical and audiovisual engineer JHA Consulting Engineers
Planner Robinson Urban Planning
Quantity surveyor Wilde and Woollard
Structural engineer TTW
Superintendent BVN
Traffic consultant PTC
Site Details
Location Sydney,  NSW,  Australia
Project Details
Status Built
Category Education
Type Schools
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