After 3.5 years of planning, documentation and construction; Ballina Coast High School (BCHS) is ready for occupation, with its first students walking through the doors at the end of the month.
In 2015, EJE were engaged to design a building for 1000 students that would prepare them for the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow as part of a new direction of education for High School students within NSW.
Located in Ballina at the corner of Cherry and Swift Streets, BCHS is seen as an important gateway to the CBD and connection to the community. This facilitated the design of two key entry points to the building, with a student entry on Swift Street facing the bus interchange, and a public entry facing Cherry Street. These entry points lead to a central gathering space on the ground floor, from which students can then circulate up through the three storey building.
The sculptural V shaped form of the building reflects the internal organisation of the school. The learning communities located in the Swift Street wing relate to the school precinct to the south, whilst the sport and performing art precinct facing Cherry Street relates to adjoining community uses. The two wings intersect where public and student groups enter the building, emphasised by a dramatic cantilever on the upper level.
Circulation through the site follows a theme of ‘Catchment to the Sea’, relating to the flow of the Richmond River from the hinterland, along the river bank, to the coastline and open sea. This theme is reflected within the architecture and landscaping with the use of indigenous flora, pavement design, dynamic colour scheme and shapes of the sunscreen blades along the Swift St façade.
The school facilities are organised over three levels, creating a dynamic learning environment within the building that encourages collaboration between learning stages and faculties due to their close proximity within the one building. The ground level contains a full sized Indoor Sports Court, Performing Arts Theatre, Food, Wood and Metal Technologies, plus Trade Training facilities. Also on this level are the Café and administration areas that open onto the central gathering space. The first floor contains open learning communities, specialist Art, Science and Music facilities and Student Hub. While the second floor includes learning communities with a mezzanine character to link the learning areas to the first floor, plus flexible Technology Labs.
For EJE Architecture it has been a very rewarding experience to be part of a Department of Education flagship development that will facilitate a new direction in the way we educate our students.