Mount Beauty Primary School: Kiewa Room, Years 3/4 Learning Space
The title of the room is drawn from the Kiewa River and was named as part of the master plan process that made a connection to the flow of water from Creek Room (P/1/2), into Kiewa Room (Yrs 3/4), and onto the Murray Room (Yrs 5/6). The aim of the space was to draw two separated Yr 3/4 student classes together into one learning space with two teachers. The pedagogical approach developed by the school involved constructivist learning though and an inquiry model with some didactic skills delivery. This multimodal learning philosophy was reflected in the multi-learning settings set in a purposeful, flexible, fluid, and age appropriate educational environment.
Working with a typical light timber construction classroom building with very tight budget the design focused on the collaborative nature of the teaching staff. Providing a central tiered carpeted area enabled the whole student cohort to gather. The aim of this space with a low ceiling, warm carpeted floor, material covered walls, and low lighting was to create a cave-like intimate feeling. The irregular tiers provide a range of platform sizes that work either as seating or as a stage depending on the orientation of the audience. A large carpeted circle on the ground provides for a stage or a seating circle. Facing this is the Fibonacci wet area with the mathematical progression demonstrated on the face of the bench as a learning opportunity. This wet area has a new entry onto the external learning balcony providing opportunities for art, environmental science, and external eating.
On either side of the central spaces are two group learning spaces which are regularly reorganised to support didactic delivery or collaborative group work. Each space as a soft, relaxing, colourful breakout couch with storage below for board games in drawers. An acoustically separate meeting space supports individual direct learning support, quiet learning, or noisy small group brainstorming activities.
A staff alcove that is open to the learning space provides for some privacy but also permits easy access throughout the day. An open storeroom permits student access to necessary learning resources and encourages student responsibility. There are two entries into the learning space that both have bag stores but also double as learning spaces with small seats, book displays, and reading ledges.
This project has transformed the isolated, gloomy classroom into an attentive, reflexive, interactive, vibrant series of spaces that supports the whole range of pedagogical encounters. Within this space the students appropriate spaces that suit their learning needs and respond to the affordances that the settings offer.