Our Lady of Assumption Parish Primary School

The new Community Hub at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish Primary School in Cheltenham, Victoria, creates a community welcome space, expanded library, and STEM centre contributing to the school’s philosophy of fostering the skills and talents of all students, bringing families into partnership with their children in the learning process.  

The OLA Community Hub was a category winner at the Learning Environments Australasia 2024 Design Awards with the jury citation recognising:

“This project has intertwined the physical, spiritual, and educational environments within the site – amplifying what each brings to this community of learners. The synergy of this place as a learning space to gather and share spiritual values has not been lost in the refurbishment of the original church to become the ‘social heart’ of the school creating a place to gather, meet, play, and learn. The built outcome is reflective of the collaborative process undertaken by the stakeholders of the project to achieve the aspirational, spatial, and functional requirements of a contemporary and vibrant Hub.”

The enlarged library space improves the functionality and quality of the learning facilities for students and families to share and reinforce the school’s ‘love of reading’.  It is rewarding to see parents and children arrive in the mornings or pick-up in the afternoon in the newly formed ‘heart’ with the opportunity to utilise the community space as a place to gather or simply step into the library to share a book between parent and child.  This is more than a book repository; it is a core educational pillar advocating the school’s love for reading.  The uniquely designed internal wall graphic highlights the imaginative journey that books can provide children, through “the magic of reading”.  The library is also a core place to learn creating various settings for the students in groups or as individuals.  The adjacent connected space is focussed on STEM activities, creating the relationship between the library and STEM as a true centre for discovery.

The reclaiming of a narrow strip of outdoor found space between the library and the adjacent multi-purpose hall provides an extension of the library, and a place for quiet reading and reflection.  This space provided a canvas for an art installation curated by the artist Justine McAllister.  The mural presented is a celebration of OLA Cheltenham focussing on the strong connection between education, community values, and Catholic identity.  The design is a collaboration of images drawn by the children and the artist.  The image is vibrant and fun whilst adoring a calm green background that ties into the colour scheme of the new building.  The red line running through the piece links the images representing the interconnectedness and unity within the school community.

“The scope of the project reimagines the opportunities of existing spaces, striving to live out the school’s Vision to be a place of welcome, with pride in creating a wonderful community spirit.  The school community have inclusively participated and collaborated through the journey of ‘their’ project from briefing, consultation through design, and watching the Community Hub emerge through construction.  The engagement of our OLA community has created a feeling of authentic ownership and the success of the new building allows each member of the learning community to feel a strong sense of belonging at the heart of our school”.

Richard Jacques