Tamborine Mountain College Science Block

By Fulton Trotter Architects
public buildings

60 Beacon Road, North Tamborine

By: Fulton Trotter Architects

Tamborine Mountain College Science Block, photography by John Mills. Copyright, all rights reserved.

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

The new Rob Nicholls Science Building is the first stage of a comprehensive master plan prepared by Fulton Trotter Architects in 2008. The single stream secondary school at the time of our commission consisted of a school housed in an existing brick residence and some demountable accommodation on a narrow un-serviced block.

What problems did you have to solve?

The schools major challenge to the architects was to grow the school from 125 students up to 250 students over a number of years while retaining as required their existing accommodation. We were asked to create a plan that allowed for the above growth in a style that reflected the unique flavour / character of the Tamborine community which is located like an island in the sky.  At the first interview we were provided with a MS Power point presentation which showcased the school boards favourite styles of architecture. This school was interested in a high aesthetic outcome within the strict confines of a traditional teaching environment where a core academic curriculum was pursued.

The buildings were then designed like big ‘chunks’ of basalt rock with boxy, angular forms for the roofs, side and rear walls. The eastern facades were then opened up with glass and coloured walls to the pedestrian link which was treated like a forest walk.  Stone was used as a unifying element across the campus with the white colonnade of steel posts emulating the huge stands of flood gums that are found in the Tamborine Rainforests. These posts were in filled with palm like frond screens to reinforce the mountain character of the buildings.

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

This project was designed and built using a collaborative approach as are all Fulton Trotter Architects projects. Consultants included: Ashburner Francis, H Design Pty Ltd, Lowenstein & Stumpo, Rod Johnson & Associates and TT Building Consultans. The builder for the project was DGW Group.

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

In the development of any new school we encourage our clients where possible to build new specialist spaces that are attractive and stimulate enrolments.  For this reason the master plan prompted as Stage 1 a new Science facility.

What are some important sustainability aspects of the project?

The buildings are designed to climatically respond to their locale as they open to the north east with large windows and high level shading. The western sun is tempered by generous overhangs to the western wall and windows and with windows and louvers that can control light and ventilation.

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

From a practical perspective the Science Building creates space for both Junior and Senior Science. The junior science room can hold an entire year level group with service pods located on perimeter wall with mobile desk in fills to allow for a variety of configurations. The centre of the space contains normal class room furniture and is carpeted to improve the important acoustic qualities of this teaching space. The Senior room is smaller for reduced class sizes (not all seniors take up science) and then has three extended experimental investigation areas that can be used for smaller teaching groups or to run longer scientific experiments.

The colour schemes are important to the character of the building that has ample natural light and ventilation. The colours are bright are like the colours found when you break open a thunder egg found on the mountain and these enliven the dark and muted external colour scheme.

The high pedestrian spine is used for circulation, bag storage, and the stone walls provide seating places for students overlooking the green space to the east. The intention is to progress with constructing these buildings of similar character along this imaginary spine.