Why Designers Are Taking Their Cues From The Systems Of Nature

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Melbourne-based architects Yau Nga and Dev Mistry from Baldasso Cortese recall their process of biophilic thinking to organically unlock the potential of the St Johns the Apostle project.

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What was the overall design objective and brief for the St John the Apostle project? 

The primary objective here was to master plan a new school to be built in stages. This project is stage 1 of 4. The suburb is young and in Melbourne’s western growth corridor lacking community facilities, hence the school creates opportunity for parents to gather and meet others.

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How did you approach the brief for this design, and what was your way of delivering results? 

 The master planning process identified how the school was going to develop over the next 5-10 years to reach a full capacity for 450 students. When designing, our first priority is to design a school that meets the “Educational Specification” – how students are going to be taught.

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It is only then do we think about how the building looks and feels. Our client was very keen to explore a sustainable timber structural solution. As an office we always incorporate passive design and where possible, other sustainability initiatives; for this project we have a timber structure and extensive use of local timber cladding, LED lighting, rain water harvesting, storm water swales, low VOC finishes and materials with recycled content.

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How did the Interface carpet tiles contribute to the design?

The  school is adjacent to a wetlands created to control storm water from streets and buildings. We took inspiration from the wetlands to metaphorically create a wetland within the building. As wildlife congregates around water; Interface’s Urban Retreat range allowed us to replicate that landscape in the learning spaces.

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We were able to use extensive colour and transition tiles to create zones within the large learning areas. For instance, grassland in the reading space, swampy water in the general learning area, and grassy shoreline along the perimeter where students will filter in through the doors.

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