The City Beach Residential College accommodates up to 66 country students enrolled in Gifted and Talented Secondary Selective Programs in some of Perth’s best schools. The new residential facilities provide after-hours teaching and tuition spaces combined with recreation, dining, gymnasium, administration and conference spaces.
The site is steeply sloping and close to the beach with distant views to the city and immediately adjacent to Bold Park, the design capitalises on these opportunities balancing city and beach views with calming views to the park.
The new teaching and recreation facilities embrace an existing mature Ficus tree that forms part of the public domain and street context and acts as a comforting and familiar figure for country boarders.The Ficus protects the building from harsh west sun, conceals the building from the predominately small scale residential street and provides an instant mature garden for interior experiences.
The building stretches around the mature tree to form a sun-filled, north facing courtyard, screened from the street and intense south west winds, creating acoustic separation to adjacent residences. This courtyard is the primary external recreation space and is boarded by the former administration building to the north. The landscape architects CAPA, worked closely with iph architects creating fluid, sculptured concrete block walls combined with native landscaping,partially screening the existing building while providing interactive seating and climbing elements. The space is boarded to the east by a grove of eucalyptus trees and foregrounded by Jon Tarry’s spiralling and weightless blue sculpture.
The primary floor plan is formed by the desire to obtain passive surveillance from the reception desk to student spaces. The site parameters of restricted area, mature tree, steeply sloping site and existing administration building, when combined with this requirement, resulted in a dynamic pin-wheel plan arrangement. This plan arrangement allows staff to maintain a watchful view while maintaining a respectful distance to teenage residents.
The open plan arrangement also allows students to passively observe others maintaining a vicarious social interaction while feeling safe. It encourages informal gathering and communication while allowing for formal teaching and training arrangements.
External materials reference the 1960’s modernist homes with robust and delicate blockwork detailing, filtering sun and creating intimacy to interior rooms. Cantilevering blocks on the entrance wall act as an abstract measure of time engaging with the suns movement.
The site is within a fire prone area and part of native title land. A Whadjuk cultural advisor was engaged to assess all found items for cultural value with such items catalogued and stored. The small and restricted site was future proofed from potential adjacent development by isolating site services from the international school, extending site boundaries and providing new access roads for the international school.
Lighting is developed as a theatrical orchestrated sequence of events that begins with the illumination of the mature Ficus street tree and culminates with a grove of Eucalyptus trees.
Highlights are then contrasted by more subtle expressions, blockwork cantilevers and texture are revealed, Zincalume pods are fluid and reflective, the entry section up lighting of the deep blue colour envelops the visitor, a nurturing gesture on arrival.
Wall lighting continues to interact with abstract painting, directing visitors deep in to the building. Jon Tarry’s Spiralling sculpture offers a more focused glance. External blockwork seats with concealed LED strips create a floating tension of mass verses weightlessness.
Residential colleges require complex lighting solutions that balance the atmospheric with the specific, the need to support after hours tuition and learning with recreation and relaxation. The creation of areas of intimacy and the desire of staff to see and not be seen.