The Damascus Centre is a contemporary learning facility that repositions the library at the heart of the school. A core project that provides a new student hub and podium level to improve student and staff amenity. As the next stage of development in a school constructed in the 1980’s, the Damascus center goes beyond the immediate building brief and seeks to address broader contextual and planning issues by improving equitable access and general circulation around the school site. Responding to the existing built fabric, the faceted façade seeks to integrate the awkward Block D geometry and affect the new tiered amphitheater. The External program offers a platform to address the main school courtyard with tiered seating, while defining new courtyard zones.
Internally the ground level incorporates a modern resource center, student hub, staff support areas and meeting rooms. The upper level has seven flexible GLA spaces and three meeting alcoves. Circulation zones have been carefully considered to allow occupants informal spaces to congregate and interact with one another.
Natural ventilation strategies are engaged to minimise air-conditioning demand and increase user activation. The air-conditioning system is designed to supplement the ceiling fans, its operation is controlled by temperature sensors, relieving the electrical consumption. A ventilation stack linking library and circulation areas via automated louvre systems allows, double loaded GLA spaces and common areas to be cross ventilated. Other sustainable initiatives include environmentally sensitive landscaping, watered by an existing rainwater collection system, and extensive sun-shading to the northern and western facades.
The Damascus Centre was a collaborative effort with all aspects of the design been developed concurrently with the consultants as a result St Paul’s High School now enjoys enhanced accessibility and connectivity while providing a modern hub of learning facilities in the heart of the school.