Hospitality Trade Training Centre, St Clare's High School, Taree

By Austin McFarland Architects
public buildings

Davis Street, Taree NSW 2430

By: Austin McFarland Architects

Hospitality Trade Training Centre, St Clare's High School, Taree, photograph by Alec M Hamilton. Copyright, all rights reserved.

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

The Hospitality Trade Training Centre reflects our concern within the schools context to deliver contemporary and uplifting buildings that represent excellent value for the available funding. We view each new school building as an opportunity to improve the spatial quality of the school environment as a whole. This building demonstrates our ongoing preoccupation with the use of ordinary materials in a way that is both reverential and innovative.

The TTC program allows secondary students from years 9 – 12 to access vocational education and training through TTCs to give them a broader range of options. This is intended to improve Year 12 retention rates and enhance pathways into vocational careers.  TTCs are also helping to address national skills shortages in traditional trades and emerging industries.  Low socio economic areas such as Taree benefit greatly from these initiatives.

What problems did you have to solve?

Prior to the designing the new facilities a study of the existing school layout was conducted with particular attention to under utilised and poor quality areas. This study revealed a position for the Hospitality building that had not been previously considered. The site was a disused corner of a large courtyard adjacent to the existing Home Technology classrooms. The courtyard also provided access to the canteen and served as an informal entry to the school. To maximise remaining courtyard space the Hospitality building pressed hard into an acute corner formed by the staff carpark and the existing Technical and Applied Sciences building. This strategy strengthened the definition of the courtyard while limiting views to unattractive parking and storage areas. The north-east face of the new building opens up to this courtyard, inviting students into the space.

The functional program was to provide for 16 student workspaces in a commercial kitchen environment and a general purpose learning area. The Hospitality building was designed to serve as both a classroom area and an occasional function/cafe space for the students to demonstrate and practice their hospitality skills. The design of internal spaces, the external appearance and the building’s prominent location reflects this dual role.

What was the contribution of others, including engineers, landscape architects, artists, builders and other specialists to the outcome?

This building required the co-ordination of complex hydraulic (plumbing and gas) and electrical services with the location of cooking and electrical equipment and the manufacture of the customised stainless steel workbenches.  Through careful design and coordination with service consultants these services have been successfully integrated into the building.

How would you describe the value of design in relation to the cost of the project?

Prior to our involvement in the project, the school had applied for the Grant for the TTC with Hospitality and Construction Trade Facilities costed for a single building.  Following our site study we recommended the separation of these facilities into two distinct buildings to resolve issues arising from conflicting uses and relationships with existing faculty buildings. A combined building would also have reduced potential future building sites. This separation had budgetary implications but the two buildings were completed within budget with all required areas and equipment, while improving the existing amenity.

What are some important sustainability aspects of the project?

The sustainability of the building is addressed through careful orientation and the effective use of materials.  Natural ventilation to the kitchen and classroom is achieved with high and low level openings. Bands of highlight windows provide sufficient natural light to negate the requirement for artificial lighting during daylight hours to the kitchen, classroom and storage room.  The highlight’s double skin of translucent fibreglass provides a high level of natural light without significantly compromising the building’s thermal performance. The building is a combination of timber framed to allow for maximum insulation and internal masonry to the kitchen. The large western wall of the kitchen is of reverse brick veneer construction to limit heat gain and stabilise internal temperatures. The roof of the classroom is a composite panel system providing high levels of insulation.

What do you consider to be the benefits of the project for the client, users and the community?

The two building strategy greatly improved the spatial quality of the courtyard and avoided the need for a single large building that would fully occupy the school’s last available building site.  Locating the Hospitality building within the courtyard and adjacent to an entry, fulfilled the school’s desire to utilise this facility for daytime and evening functions.  The large under cover entry has provided an additional learning area and a kitchen garden has been planted in the courtyard engaging not only the hospitality students but all students of the school.

Other general comments

This building was just awarded the AIA NSW Country Division Award for Non Residential Architecture - New at the AIA NSW Country Division Conference.