Education & Community

BJA have been involved in the planning, design and construction of over 18 Steiner, community and religious schools throughout Australia. We are recognised as leading practitioners in the field and have a wealth of experience to draw upon. As most school’s building programs are staged over many years whilst student numbers grow and finances become available, we are often relied upon to provide continuity of the planning vision.

Our personal commitment and understanding of the Steiner philosophy means we are able to create a supportive architectural environment  and gives expression to Steiners’ architectural impulse. Our empathy and experience with working with teacher and parent groups provides the basis for our work with schools and community groups of any educational philosophy.

Brief Preparation and Master Planning
It is important for schools to invest in a schematic master plan to optimize the use of the site and develop a cost effective development strategy.

BJA will workshop with school representatives to develop a picture of the schools uniqueness and local talent, its long-term growth expectations and translate this into a schedule of facilities that will ultimately be needed. Quantitative needs and spatial requirements are identified but also qualitative nuances that will guide the schools’ identity. Talks, discussions and use of creative media help form a common understanding. This is all wrapped up in the Brief that guides the design process. It is a key and often under-valued document.

We then map the capacity, location or availability of services such as water, power, sewer and storm water.

Site restrictions such as planning controls, bushfire and vegetation ecology, access roads and parking, as well as topographical slopes and features are assessed.

This background work is the basis for preparing site planning sketches in which outside spaces and relationships are defined and embraced by buildings, the gesture and grouping of which goes a long way to establishing the schools character.

The schools investment in this stage is invaluable as it establishes the final location and size of services and avoids costly upgrades at a later date. It allows for identification of cost effective stages and grouping of construction and allows the timely preparation of grant applications and cost planning.

We are frequently asked to assist with planning for a school that is partially established and without a master plan. Typically we need to re evaluate the usefulness of existing, often undersized rooms, and ensure that there is adequate land to accommodate the schools ultimate growth.

Grant Applications
Schools depend on government grants to realize their building program. Our experience is that having a master plan gives the grant authority confidence in a school and gives weight to the application. We are able to assist with simple footprint sketches of proposed buildings and in the preparation of realistic cost plans with allowances for services upgrades. We provide independent certification at the end of the project.

Our cost analysis of an extensive range of our completed school building types and constructional systems around Australia is used to cost plan new projects. We tailor the constructional system, the complexity and quality of finishes to meet your budget. A Quantity Surveyor can also be used to provide independent analysis and advice.

Despite the common underpinning of Steiner’s educational philosophy, each of our schools develops a different look and feel influenced by the schools unique constellation of teachers and community members, our response to the regional geographical and climatic influences and the specific site and history.

We put in place a consistent design process so the completed school reads as a whole, but evolving organism rather than a pastiche of different styles. The environment is enlivened by an artistic use of colour, form and spatial experience.

The stages from design through to construction are similar to those outlined in Residential Services except that consideration needs to be given to the roles and responsibilities of building committees, the school Board, the project representative and the appropriate involvement of teachers and the broader school community.