Description Revamp of existing building
Client Sacred Heart School
Size 1500m2

architecture - Sacred Heart Science Block The school understands the impact that the built environment can have on learner results and enthusiasm. This project seeks to express how science deals with current environmental issues: a new membrane wraps the old building and performs a number of self-sustaining functions: collection of rainwater, vertical garden sun screening and electrical energy generation, to create a modern, relevant and exciting place in which to be inspired by science.

Sacred Heart College has identified the opportunity to increase the performance of their science students and bring them on a par with the excellent results that pupils are achieving in mathematics and other subjects. The condition of the existing science block has long been seen as a contributing factor to students underperforming in the sciences. It is felt that a facilities upgrade would go a long way to improving results.

The brief required a refurbishment of the existing science block which presented a number of problems.

  • The building is east/west facing with large areas of glass that allows for very little thermal stability - the building gets extrememly hot in summer and very cold in winter, making for a difficult teaching and learning environment.
  • It is expensive to heat and cool
  • The existing facilities for storage of equipment and preparation of experiments are outdated and cramped
  • The classrooms in their present configuration do not allow for more flexible modern teaching and learning methods.
  • The external (paving and paintwork) and internal finishes (ceilings, floors, work benches, etc.) of the building are failing and need to be replaced.

The challenge was twofold:

  • To create a comfortable and functional environment, by addressing the issues in a pragmatic and sustainable way, while making the building a more modern, relevant and exciting place to learn and teach science.
  • The building should acquire a GREEN STAR RATING


The reuse of the shell and facades of the existing building is preferable and more sustainable than an outright demolition and re-build.


A new skin wraps the existing building creating a layer which responds to its various façade orientations.

  • EAST FAÇADE - a “living wall”. A steel structure which supports an indigenous, deciduous creeper that shades the classrooms from the strong morning sun in summer and allows for solar penetration in winter.
  • WEST FAÇADE - the “periodic table wall”. This element creates a more permanent shading structure on the west side of the building. It has depth, which allows for storage lockers and seating. Important elements of the Periodic Table are highlighted in the façade through the use of coloured steel panels, coloured glass and louvered panels.
  • SOUTH FAÇADE - is the “billboard” facing onto the street. It advertises science events to passing traffic.
  • NORTH FAÇADE - faces the square in front of the school chapel and can be used as a billboard to communicate science events to the school community. It has the potential to act as a heat sink providing some heating during the winter months.


A modern colonnade is formed between the “periodic table wall” and the existing building. In this space, students will be able to store their bags and pause before class, sheltered from the elements.


A roof of Photovoltaic panels oriented to the north will provide the power requirements for the building.


A storage tank, situated on the south-west corner will collect rainwater from the roofs to complement the irrigation system that feeds the “living wall”.


Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) has been previously connected and is in use in the existing building. Its use will be extended to provide a more economical form of heating in the winter months.


All new materials, ceilings, floor finishes, paint etc. will be chosen based on appropriate and sustainable criteria.

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