Few schools get the opportunity to start again from scratch, but an expanding roll required such a move for Elim Christian College in Howick. Having seen examples of previous Jasmax projects such as Albany Senior High School, Elim wanted to create a flexible, open-plan learning space, capable of accommodating a potential roll of 850 students in single-storey buildings.
The design concept for the school draws on ‘The Elim Oasis’ theme with brick exterior cladding in the neutral colours of the desert and the interior courtyard walls featuring bold and colourful finishes (to stimulate educational learning).
To maximise the site, the design team positioned a ring of classrooms and a multi-purpose hall around the perimeter and added a
row of four coloured cube-like classrooms in an east-west configuration through the centre. The internal classrooms accommodate the youngest students, affording them a sense of protection, while older students are accommodated in the slightly more formal perimeter classrooms.
Previously, teaching was delivered in traditional cellular classrooms, this new design represents a substantial change in the way education is provided. The design team paired classrooms and linked these by sliding doors and shared teaching spaces. There is more connectivity between the different areas, and teachers have the flexibility to rearrange the spaces as required. The library is deliberately positioned right in the heart of the school. Doing so acknowledges that knowledge is at the centre of learning.
Colourful landscaping, designed by our landscape team counters the rectilinear shapes of the buildings and brings an informality to the outdoor spaces. The landscaping includes a blue netball court and artificial turf that ensures the plaza can be used all year round. While the school was not designed to achieve Green Star status, sustainable initiatives have been incorporated as a matter of course. These include the use of low-VOC and durable materials, well-insulated buildings, the provision of shading and low-energy products.