St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead – Masterplan

Competition Entry, Masterplan and Refurbishment

Transitioning St Mary’s to a full 7 stream 7-12 High School is a once in a generation opportunity to reimagine the existing built fabric into something that will support contemporary learning.

The school has a rich history and a thriving culture. The existing buildings, however, embody outdated teaching methodologies and don’t support current pedagogies and fulfilling human interactions. Traditional teaching spaces are not going to become redundant any time soon as they offer acoustic privacy and faculty specificity that open plan areas cannot. The balance and mix of these spaces alongside more contemporary open plan learning environments will change and arguably has already. By consolidating and rationalising existing faculty areas the creation of two flexible learning environments has been made possible in Block A and Block D. It is envisaged these two, possibly senior and junior areas, can complement Science, TAS, Art, Music & Drama areas while rectifying dilapidation and deficiency in both structures. Flexible Learning zones can promote the development of student’s ‘soft skills’.

We acknowledge that students may learn more, from their peers and informal interactions with teachers, than they ever will during class time. To that end we propose tiered seating opportunities and Bump Pods to lift the quality of traditional teaching spaces and human interactions where staff and students can engage with one another.

Redevelopment of the courtyard is a key strategy: – By removing physical barriers and adding informal seating and shelters through built forms, student and staff culture can be supported. Positioned on the northwest courtyard corner a new Marketplace is proposed for the exchange and consumption of food and ideas. Adjacent the proposed Chapel and Hospitality facilities it is hoped these spaces can provide the spiritual soul the school is looking for.

The School Entry is currently undefined. Poor signage is the only means of hinting where one should approach. By co-locating Administration and Staff Facilities toward the front of the school many beneficial outcomes are achieved. The first floor is connected to ground level & accessibility from the street is achieved. A street presence and new school identity is created. An undercover pickup and drop off zone is enabled. Staff Facilities are focused alongside Administration services allowing them to work together.