Byron Bay Community Primary School

By Space Studio

Tennyson Street, Byron Bay, NSW 2481

By: Space Studio Pty Ltd

Byron Community Primary School, photograph by David Taylor. Copyright, all rights reserved.

How does the project respond to its context, contribute to the public domain for example street or neighbourhood?

The project aim was to provide maximum facilities in apsirational buildings that convey the spirit of the school via their street elevations.

The project comprises a multi-purpose hall, multi-media library with computer room, art classroom, staff tearoom and toilet facilities. An administration office and staff room are housed in a smaller building raised on columns and linked by a first floor bridge to the main building. 

The buildings protectively wrap the two sides of the playground that face the street, in order to create a secure courtyard in the heart of the school. The courtyard elevations are open, allowing casual supervision of the playground and a visual connection between the school buildings. The street elevations are deliberately defensive at low level, with a large graphic panel acting as the main school signage, becoming more transparent and complex on the upper level. 

The buildings respond to their heritage residential location by using simple, familiar materials, timber and fibre cement, in two different ways to add texture and scale to the elevations; around the base of the buildings in a weatherboard form and around the top as flat panels. The elevations respond to their orientation to limit solar gain and capture breezes. The prominent ʻzig zagʼ wall forming the west elevation of the art room uses angled solid panels to block the afternoon sun and narrow slots of south facing louvres for air flow and southern light. The west facing opening panels on the tree house give a sense of inhabitation as well as providing solar shading and cooling southerly breezes. The use of graduating colour on the high level panels of both buildings breaks down the scale and mass of the upper part of the building and hints at the vibrancy of the school within.

What problems did you have to solve?

The school premises are modest in size and retention of playground space was an important consideration. The administration office - nicknamed the tree house - is raised on pilotti to create a covered outdoor learning space below, thus retaining playground space whilst creating a new outdoor facility and visually placing the school director in the heart of the school. 

Locating the new buildings on the two street elevations also allowed good vehicular access during construction whilst allowing the rest of the site to remain safely occupied by the school. 

What are some important sustainability aspects of the project?

The buildings are designed to be environmentally conscious and naturally ventilated. All walls and ceilings are heavily insulated, louvred windows and ceiling fans provide cross ventilation and air circulation, generous windows ensure plenty of daylight and integral solar shading prevents heat gain in summer. Solar energy is used to power the hot water system and photovoltaic solar panels on the north-facing roof generate energy in excess of the schoolʼs requirements.

Other general comments

The school director says 'Staff, students and parents alike all love what the new buildings have offered the school and enjoy working in them tremendously. I recently showed a couple of perspective parents around and they were extremely impressed by the design.'