Cultivating Independent and Collaborative Learning | Architecture & Design

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Cultivating Independent and Collaborative Learning

Rounding out a College Masterplan developed by Law Architects in 2007, the Notre Dame Centre at Our Lady of Sion College was born from a need to provide a designated adult learning environment for students completing their final years of school.



BY Andrew McDonald

July 24th, 2017


A key aspect to the design brief for this project was to translate the school’s sense of community and college cohesion. Through their design, Law Architects have ensured each space would cultivate independent and collaborative learning as well as student well being.

The building revolves around a “dynamic heart”- a double height atrium lit by two saw-tooth skylights. The central stair below wraps itself around tiered seating platforms and flows down into an informal sunken amphitheater. A variety of study nooks set in and around the atrium and locker areas allow extended learning from formal teaching spaces as well as private study and social interactions. Basked in light, colour and texture, this open communal heart of the building allows students and teachers to look inwards surrounding areas.

Key to the design and activation of this dynamic heart was the desire to soften the edges, creating and delineating space psychologically without objects. Law Architects have utilised the Hexagon & Color Frame carpet tile collections from Shaw Contract to enable a smooth transition between each of the collaborative spaces. The creative installation concentrates with Hexagon carpet tiles around collaborative areas including; communal tables, seating and locker nooks, break out spaces, tiered seating and presentation areas. As a contrast, square carpet tiles are used in all learning areas to differentiate the spaces.

Law Architects sought to ensure spaces were socially and environmentally responsive in order to facilitate a goal of providing students with an effective independent and collaborative learning environment. To reach this goal, fundamental design principles such as passive solar design and mixed mode ventilation were embodied in the building design. Environmentally conscious and low VOC materials were selected for the project, including Cradle to Cradle certified carpet tiles from Shaw Contract. This project successfully addresses Green Star criteria and stringent government requirements to deliver a space that focuses on the well-being, growth, and achievement of its students.

Notre Dame Centre by Law Architects is a Market Winner for the 2017 Shaw Contract Design Awards. You can see the full list of Market Winners here.

Photography by Adam Thwaites


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