Vertical Catholic school approved for Box Hill

The NSW Independent Planning Commission has approved a $123 million vertical school development at Box Hill in Sydney’s north west.

Designed by BVN, Santa Sophia Catholic College will accommodate 1,860 students from kindergarten to year 12, 130 staff, and an early learning centre for 60 children.

The project will bring together schools currently spread across two campuses in neighbouring Schofields and Rouse Hill.

BVN’s design envisions four interconnected building, up to six storeys, arranged as “a series of islands in a sea of decks.” Outdoor terraces surrounding the buildings will create spaces for learning and playing.

The project will create a number of hubs for the school. An Inquiry Hub will consist of learning spaces and home bases, which will accommodate 60 students at the kindergarten to year 10 levels, and 50 students at the senior high school levels. The Research Hub will accommodate science labs and a Knowledge Centre will provide space for the school’s library. A Creative Hub will accommodate facilities for food technology, visual arts, fabrication, assembly and electronics while a Professional Hub will house the school’s administration facilities and staff.

The project will be located in the town centre of a masterplanned community, The Gables of Box Hill, and will be adjacent to a sporting field on one side and a shopping centre on the other. Developer Celestino boasts that “the town centre will become Box Hill’s community hub for shopping, dining, education, and recreation.”

The development was referred to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) after it received 69 objections from the community. The IPC noted that key issues raised related to the suitability of a school in the town centre, the proposed built form and urban design, traffic and transport, and safety.

The three commissioners appointed to consider the application, including architect Wendy Lewin, concluded that “the provision of additional school infrastructure within a growth area is in the broader public interest.”

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