Smith + Tracey Win the Learning Environments Australasia Victorian Award 2024

The new Community Hub reimagination project at Our Lady of the Assumption, Cheltenham, was jointly awarded winner at the Learning Environments Australasia Conference 2024. The conference theme of “AMPLIFY: Inclusion, Learning, Place” was epitomised by the OLA Community Hub designed around the school’s ‘love for reading’, educational excellence, and spiritual values celebrated as a place for community inclusion.

The jury citation for 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.

A fundamental element of the school’s strategic masterplan, this project allows for the library expansion to the Discovery Centre and welcoming Administration and staff Resource Centre.

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 considered incorporation of adaptable teaching and learning areas, improved staff facilities and light filled external learning area (that was a previously unlinked strip between the library and adjacent multi-purpose hall) reveal the level engagement of the students and staff with the project team and of the iteration that occurred across the design process.

The educational value of the variety of settings present within the project is heightened by promoting visual and physical connections to the external surroundings, deliberately incorporating an abundance of natural light. In addition, the school’s engagement with an artist to work directly with students to explore and design an integrated mural reflecting the values of the learning community and Catholic identity ensures the continued connection between learner, learning and community.

The panel congratulates the school, its community, and the project team for achieving a successful, high-quality learning Hub that promotes discovery, learning and community.

Thank you to the school community for their collaboration and vision, and the commitment and efforts of the consultant team and Jardon’s construction team to deliver this purposeful and meaningful project.

About the author
Founded in 1948, Smith + Tracey Architects has built its reputation on education, community and religious projects throughout Australia.