Centre for Innovation and Learning

Project Details

Location: Caroline Chisholm High School, Chisholm, ACT

Country: Ngunnawal

Lead Architect: William Headland

Completion: 2017

Awards: Enrico Taglietti Award for Educational Architecture, ACT Architecture Awards 2018

STEM Centre has been envisioned as a sophisticated and vibrant focal learning centre for students and the public in Canberra. The brief called for the building design to harness and facilitate the excitement and wonder of the STEM curriculum and allow flexibility in the way these innovative and fluid subjects are delivered.

The facility is located as an extension of the Lawrence Nield senior campus, which was planned as a ‘village’ with ‘streets’ and ‘houses’ (classrooms). The new building is imagined as the next stage to the school village and will be a separate yet connected element.

STEM Centre is open to all public schools across Canberra, not just students attending Caroline Chisholm.  We considered it important for the building to be designed as a standalone public facility not only in the context of the immediate school grounds.

As the main thoroughfare through the building and the central hub, the Collaboration space is the most important space of the facility both from a learning point of view and an aesthetic one.  This is the space that movement, noise and action coexist.  Access to northern and southern outdoor spaces flank either end of this space and the volume is exaggerated to mirror the intensity.  Externally this space is clad in standing seam steel panels in stark contrast to any other built form in the school.  The simplifications of the forms that abut the Collaboration space allow the two-storey volume to be clearly legible externally as the important central hub of the facility.  This is further enhanced by contrasting the matt texture of the dry pressed brick.