Future-focused learning design facilitates contemporary pedagogy and team teaching
Galungara Public School's contemporary pedagogy emphasizes personalization, active investigation and inquiry, collaboration between students and professionals, targeted teaching at each learner's point of need, and growth towards self-management and self-direction within a supportive learning environment.
Client: Schools Infrastructure NSW
Studios: Sydney, Australia
Core 35 facilities and 39 teaching spaces
Stage 1 was designed and built using volumetric DfMA
Stage 2 was devised using a ‘kit of parts’ strategy
Collaborators: Richard Crooks Construction Engineers: Northrop
Photography: Arthur Vay
The Galungara Public School is located on a 2-hectare greenfield block of land in the rapidly growing suburb of Schofields, NSW. This is a core 35 primary school supporting 1012 student capacity.
The school was built in two stages, Stage 1 was completed in January 2020 and Stage 2 was completed in January 2023.
The completed project includes 39 flexible learning spaces facilitate contemporary pedagogy and team teaching. Including a Library, a multipurpose Hall with shared community use, Homebases, Practical Activity Areas, Withdrawal Rooms, Learning Commons Rooms and Covered Outdoor Learning Areas (COLA’s).
The external areas include informal recreational space (e.g. play space and casual seating), formal learning areas (e.g. can accommodate a structured whole class or group activity), sports facilities (e.g. courts), authentic learning (e.g. sensory and vegetable gardens) and reﬂective spaces (e.g. for quiet reading).
The variety of spaces are intended to enhance the learning experience and improve student engagement.
The first public school in NSW to be completed using the volumetric Design for Manufacture and Assembly DfMA
Stage 1 of the project was designed and built using the volumetric DfMA (Design for Manufacture and Assembly) approach – it was the first public school in NSW to be completed via this method.
This meant that fully finished building modules were designed and built in a workshop in Victoria and transported to site in NSW on the back on trucks. Once on-site, they were assembled into a fully functioning building. Landscaping including decking, pathways, play areas and soft landscaping were also made, transported and assembled in this way.
DfMA increased the speed of project delivery, shortened the onsite construction time, reduced site waste and enabled greater built quality control. GroupGSA’s design team worked closely with the general contractor Richard Crookes Construction and module fabricator, Modscape to design the building in separate modules which allowed it to be fabricated and transported with ease.
Learnings and adaptations
Due to rapid population growth in the area, Stage 2 of the project was brought forward by 3 years – originally envisaged to open in day 1 term 1 2026.
The revised project brief was to design and deliver Stage 2 under a rapid 9-month program for a day 1, term 1, 2023 opening. It was critical that Stage 2 did not impact the day to day operations of the school or the learning experience for its cohort.
Further to the brief, we applied lessons learnt from the design and delivery method of Stage 1 (built using the volumetric DfMA (Design for Manufacture and Assembly) approach – to devise a ‘kit of parts’ strategy which saw us deliver Stage 2 on time and in-budget during the midst of the Pandemic.
Changing the delivery method from volumetric DfMA to a ‘kit of parts’ approach meant change in design and detailing of almost all the building components. This challenged us to rethink the structural system, building foundations, framing of internal and external walls, set-downs and services coordination.
The design was rapidly developed to enable earlier start times on site and progressed through fast paced delivery of the main works.
This resulted in Stage 2 tying in seamlessly with Stage 1 – to deliver future focused learning spaces for the benefit of the growing student population in the community.
Contemporary pedagogy and specialised teaching spaces
Contemporary pedagogy emphasizes personalization, active investigation and inquiry, collaboration between students and professionals, targeted teaching at each learner’s point of need, and educational growth and personal development within a supportive learning environment.
The buildings and COLA areas in particular were designed to support teacher and student collaboration, self-direction, and self-management, with a range of sizes, furniture settings, and functions to enhance the learning experience and improve engagement. The furniture in the building is adaptable, flexible, and considers the needs of students of different abilities and age groups.
Operable walls and large sliding doors promote connection between indoor and outdoor spaces, while covered open spaces provide opportunities for student interaction. A covered walkway overlooking the courtyard and connecting the COLAs makes it easier for students to move between buildings.
The outdoor environment plays a significant role in the life of the school. It provides the organisational framework for wayfinding and circulation; highlighting entries, connections and making distinguishable different use zones. It is logical and legible to young primary students, parents and staff.
Most importantly, good connections to the outdoors allow students to develop a positive relationship with nature and begin to understand their role as environmental stewards, reinforcing a sense of responsibility towards the local, natural environment. It also plays an important part as an educational tool. The outdoor spaces provided authentic learning activities where students can experience science, art, and essential life skills that can only be created in the gardens and ecosystems of the natural environment.
To increase outdoor learning activity, indoor environments must be thoroughly, conveniently and safely connected to a variety of outdoor learning settings that have been designed with the same level of care and pedagogical alignment as the interior spaces.
The outdoors also offers more formal sports facilities and play equipment where students develop critical motor-skills, learn how to take “risks” in a controlled environment and understand rules and fair play. There is a range of areas for different purposes, from quiet intimate play spaces to large, active kick-around areas. Opportunities also exist for creative play, focusing on children’s ability to interpret and imagine.
Sustainability through design
The design incorporates key sustainability strategies in both its built form and through the introduction of additional features, for direct and indirect benefits to the school, its cohort and the environment.
In order to enhance student comfort and promote a ‘sun safe’ design, GSA incorporated sun control measures to minimise cooling loads. Maximising natural light within the build through the use of skylights in COLA spaces and general areas, are balanced out by large overhanging roofs and sheltered connectors to generate shade. The construction of these spaces further enhanced the project sustainability – whilst the kit of parts construction method minimised waste and site works.
We also installed an additional water tank in Stage 2 to collect rainwater for on-site reuse, planted drought tolerant native and endemic plant species to support the surrounding natural ecology, and replanted natural site elements such as trees and stones in the landscape and site works.
Direct benefits to students included creating compost and vegetable gardens to promote sustainable practices and hanging educational images to raise awareness about resource consumption and recycling.
Rajat is an Associate Director and a seasoned Project Architect who has delivered many complex projects. Rajat has a wide range of experience on small to large projects both in Australia and overseas in particular USA and India.
We acknowledge First Nations peoples and their continuing connection to land, waters and culture, because we strongly believe in reconciliation and collaborative engagement for a better future. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging, whose knowledge, traditions and stories guide custodianship on what will always be their ancestral lands.