“It’s when the fire is at its most intense and you can clearly see the building’s skeletal form, its timber frame,” says Staughton.
For Stawell Secondary College, Staughton also exposed part of the building’s “carcass”.
Timber battens have been transposed on the fibrocement sheeted exterior walls and the timber battens on the interior ceiling extend beyond the perimeter of the building.
Between the two science classrooms, there is a north-south passage that features a translucent polycarbonate roof, with parquetry timber below that suggests the pattern of Indigenous shields.
“We were also conscious of creating a link to the adjacent library, making the corridor space feel like it was part of the outdoor space,” says Staughton, who included grey felt-covered walls along this passage that can be used to display the students’ work and, at the same time, improve the acoustic qualities of the building.
In making the classroom spaces as efficient as possible, Workshop Architecture not only created two sciences laboratories of each size, but also two separate learning spaces or, as they’re termed, “theory rooms”, adjacent to these and separated by acoustic sliding doors.
As considered is the food technology classroom with a kitchen at one end and a separate dining area at the other, the latter leading to a paved terrace via large glass sliding doors.
To maximise this space, there are also two benchtop hotplates on each of the generous island benches to accommodate up to 25 students.
As the roof has a 45-degree pitch, Staughton was also able to include numerous air vents in the coffer-shaped ceiling rather than dissecting the spaces with individual flues.
“We wanted to ensure a continual flow of air,” says Staughton, pointing out the operable windows in each room.
This project was also an opportunity to introduce a native garden on the school grounds, now featuring a rich and diverse variety of plants including a number of colourful banksias.
The use of two shades of yellow can also be seen in the linoleum that suggests the Wimmera’s reputation as a wheat-growing belt.
“It’s like the colour of the wheat during the summer months,” adds Staughton.