The Mother Teresa Catholic School building design project in Zuccoli has been awarded the National Design Excellence Award and the Public Buildings/Structures award at this year’s BDAA Design Awards. The National Design Excellence Award is the highest honour given through the annual Building Designers Association of Australia design awards, celebrated Sept. 7 at the BDAA Annual National Conference 2019 in Brisbane.

Building designer Dave Bennett from Bennett Design with Rossi Architects & Walter Brooke, were challenged with creating an aesthetically pleasing, sustainable and spiritually significant educational design in the school project; one with a resulting design that features sprawling covered shelters to facilitate outdoor learning, numerous common learning and staff areas to bring everyone together, and environmentally friendly, sustainable features such as a natural ventilation louvre system and bike and walking connections. Integrated into the design are multiple samples of Catholic symbolism.

Education NT’s Mother Teresa Catholic Primary School is half of a new greenfield educational precinct planned to accommodate a government and private school with shared facilities, a related press release explains. The precinct master plan provides enhanced learning environments for the wider Zuccoli community with an Early Learning Centre and Primary School to accommodate 450 students, along with supporting community amenities.

Providing children skills and knowledge in a rapidly changing, interconnected world was a key challenge facing the design team, who were required to transition from the traditional model of cellular classrooms. True to this mission, the Mother Teresa Catholic Primary School design focused on physical environment factors affecting learning outcomes: Naturalness, Student Centered Learning and Engagement.

The design allowed for large sheltered areas that provide opportunities for outdoor learning at any time of the year. A key principle is that every learning area flows seamlessly to outside learning opportunities and internally to supporting breakout and common learning areas. The teaching staff members have group office areas outside the classroom to promote a strong collegiate educational culture and professional development. The design was aimed to limit the footprint through a two-storey design with core efficiency.

Ecoefficiency is addressed in teaching and learning spaces, which come complete with a natural ventilation louvre system controlled by the BMS for use in the dry season. The design plan provides strong bike and walking connections and opportunities for horticultural learning. The project budget is facilitated by employing large spans and standard construction methods to achieve innovative pedagogical outcomes. Finally, designs and items of Catholic Symbology and identity have been woven into the school planning and building fabric to promote the cultural and spiritual enhancement of the facility.

Bennett Design has been creating custom-tailored, sustainable, award-winning design solutions inspired by nature. Bennett specialises in designs and material selections which coexist harmoniously with the surrounding land. Using this method, they work with their clients to produce designs for a range of applications including wineries, homes, and a variety of other projects.

Every year, a panel of BDAA experts and practitioners in the building design industry select the most innovative, masterful and creative designs completed during the past year for recognition in the association’s annual awards program. The judges look for designs that have the perfect balance of creativity and clever product utilisation. This year, the competition attracted hundreds of entries from building designers across Australia.

The National Design Awards celebrates and showcases the designs of winners from various categories as well as the commendations in order to inspire and share different design elements and solutions from real world projects.