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Highfields is a unique preparatory school on the North Shore in Sydney. The school and the site are small and nestled into a compact site in an established leafy residential suburb.It has a very special relationship to its landscape setting and school community. It also has a unique approach that uses external garden spaces for extending the teaching environment outside the classroom.
A very landscape based approach was therefore taken to the design of its new multi-function hall, music room, library and associated amenities rooms to ensure that the new building meshed with the established landscape setting and its scale was appropriately low and friendly.
Far from adopting the bland standardised uniform that became the hallmark of most of the projects delivered under the BER scheme, this building set out from the start to engender delight, curiosity and imagination in its 5 year old users, without reliance on the brightly coloured pastiche or kitch feel that is often associated with pre-school designs.
The hall opens to outdoor courtyards and terraces to enable a variety of flexible uses to be explored, merging indoor and outdoor spaces. The natural contours of the site were exploited to tuck the new library into the hillside, keeping the scale low and providing opportunities for more intimate and imaginative smaller garden spaces to directly relate to the quiet learning spaces of the library.