Catholic College Wodonga: Mercy Centre

Understanding the social and learning culture of senior years’ students and staff at Catholic College Wodonga was the principle focus of No. 42 Architects during the early stages of the design process for the new Senior Centre. Working in collaboration with the educationalist Dr Ben Cleveland, our team undertook workshops, interviews, presentations, and observations with senior students, staff, parents, and college community. We sought to examine and question the educational rationale of the college leadership, the pedagogical approaches of the staff, the learning and social needs of the students, and the expectations and values of the college community.

The expectations and spatial needs of the students and teachers were developed through a “Stuff It ” workshop. In this workshop senior students and teachers explored learning experiences that they may encounter in their current curriculum. From these experiences the furniture and surrounding environment were imagined that best supported the students in their learning. These exercises established that a range of learning settings was often needed to satisfy the typical senior learning experiences. The range and depth of pedagogical encounters were explored and described though the pedagogical approach, the spatial needs, the qualities of that space, the resources required, the times of use, and the numbers of students and teachers involved.

This process culminated in a design that supports the variety of learning needs experienced by a senior student during the final years of college life. A range of spaces was created including didactic teaching spaces, group learning studios, short term delivery areas, seminar rooms, open team booths, incubator enclosed pods, silent study areas, a library node, accessible staff zones, incidental meeting points, and relaxation areas. These areas are linked by a fluid promenade zone that encourages accidental interactions.

This project was awarded by the Council of Education Facility Planners International Victoria Chapter.

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