Diocesan School for Girls: Common Room Building

The Common Room Building comprises the first stage of the masterplan development which will include a Performing Arts Centre and auditorium as a flagship centrepiece to the school campus. It provides individual common room spaces for each of the three senior year groups (Y11-Y13) over two floor levels along with office facilities for the pastoral care team. The third floor provides 4 teaching spaces, 2 of which are destined to be fitted out as science labs (as a future stage) and are directly linked via a bridge to the adjacent science block.

The cylindrical form of the building gives expression to its location as a nodal point on the school campus and its juxtaposition with pedestrian routes, skewed site boundaries, large protected trees to the east and several adjoining buildings all with differing orientations and levels. The curve expresses movement and resolves the junction of various traffic routes. The building also negotiates a full storey change over the compact site.

Zinc cladding provides a weathered softness to the taut skin and visual cues to the Welsh slate roof used on the historic School House and Chapel buildings nearby. This material will be continued as a roof material in the next phases. The sandstone lift cladding adds a touch of civic importance and continues the existing school colour palette typified by buff brick and cream-painted weatherboards elsewhere.

This was an exceptionally tight site with logistic challenges that are reflected in the design. The project was completed in 2006 and was designed in association with McIldowie Partners, a Melbourne architectural practice.