St Stephen’s Primary in Duncraig was an exciting opportunity to enhance student learning by creating a central ‘heart’ of the school. We built a story around village life through the creation of four areas: village green, town square, street and market, all within the library.
The design is pitched at the scale of a child yet inviting to the entire school community. This is implied through built-in and loose furniture; purpose-built ‘market carts’ function as mobile library displays, a town amphitheater complete with a slide, and green “charging” trees punctuate the space. A “street edge” of arched openings creates small areas for quiet learning. The school librarian is seated along this edge, implying a less formal approach to control over the space.
The first challenge was the unremarkable 1980’s atrium. The project budget required a transformation without structural change or an increased floor area. As the atrium is the primary circulation path to the surrounding classrooms, this created challenges in terms of noise levels for the new integrated library, teaching and learning space. Quieter spaces for smaller groups and individuals are located along ‘street edges’. The busier spaces for group class activity are located centrally.
Key to the school’s culture was a desire for a space in which everyone feels welcome, including parents. The entire junior school community can be comfortably accommodated as a collective whole or in smaller groups spread throughout the space. The library now sits at the heart of all this activity. Here books have an important presence within the school’s key space and are accessed in a dynamic and informal way.
The new library and community hub is visible, vibrant, adaptable and able to be directed by the needs of the student and school. The mobile “market carts” allow books to be displayed or even moved to classrooms, further emphasizing the boundless influence of the library upon the school life. At the same time, the school community has a place where it can comfortably meet together amidst the joyful motif of village life.