Newman Catholic College will sit on a beautiful site on the campus of James Cook University, Smithfield, surrounded by rainforest-covered mountains, Atika Creek and a sports oval. The compact site was one of the inspirations for college architects, TPG Architects, to design a multi-level school which will be an exemplar of world class, contemporary, twenty-first century education design.
Spread across four levels, the design concepts prioritise the balances between indoor/outdoor and active/passive learning areas as well as the immediacy of open spaces. The design concepts also blur traditional learning zones, creating open and collaborative learning environments to provide flexible teaching spaces that can be adapted to future needs and changes in teaching methods, and will facilitate a myriad of new opportunities for both teachers and students.
The Master Plan envisages a double-storey entry colonnade, open ground floor plaza, cafeteria, general and specialist flexible learning labs/collaboratories, upper level concourse connecting the vertical common, global learning hub, tiered seating spaces and vertical circulation, and a second-floor enclosed and air-conditioned sports/assembly hall with fixed tiered seating … a lively and dynamic place! Sustainability is also an important consideration in the college design which includes solar panels and design features and orientation to reduce energy requirements.
Embedded health and wellbeing principles have also influenced the design response, with generous visually connected internal spaces, abundant natural light, access to landscape views, provision of quiet retreat and nook spaces and staff spaces all integrated into the learning environment.