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New Zealand Institute of Architects

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Cardinal McKeefry Entrance & Administration

Context Cardinal McKeefry School was hard to find, and its entry’s were not clear when you found it. It was a non-descript school that turned its back on the entrance and major playground. When you arrived on site and you eventually found your way inside, it was no more clear. A wide corridor entry eventually gave way to a distant reception area with administration spaces that were functionally inadequate for the needs of the staff numbers and was visually isolated from the main areas of the school. The school roll had dropped over time despite an excellent and innovative staff and teaching program, and a strong community base. Some classroom spaces were underutilized and available and briefed for remodel within a minimal and defined budget. Design intent The design intended to address problems with the invitation and welcome to the site and school building. This intention is achieved by addressing the entry, circulation and orientation problems with the school through creating a simple, but clearly articulated architectural entry identity that is repeated at the street and a main entrance point. Circulation through the grounds and school is channeled to a clear new central entry. The interior was remodeled to shuffle and optimize space creating an entrance gallery and open inviting front school office and a warm contemporary school waiting and staff area. Furniture, an interior screen and simple finishing is used to maximize the architectural effects of the intervention to transform the interior space. An adjacent room was refurbished as a simple library stretching the available funding in the interior to make a difference to the perception of the appearance of the school. The significance of the architecture is in the clarity and simplicity of the reordering and updating of the school. It now has a clear legibility that directs and orientates visitors, and facilities to support visitors, staff, management and administration of the school. With modest means applied carefully where they will have the greatest effect the school interior and exterior identity has been transformed.

 
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