Places in Landscape
All Hallows School, Brisbane Qld
Wilson Architects’ landscape architectural team has designed several ‘places in the landscape’ for one of Brisbane’s most historic sites – All Hallows’ School. The all-girls school was established in 1861 and is home to some of Queensland’s oldest buildings.
Extensive client liaison and student input with the design team has led to four celebrated landscaped spaces and covered walkways within the school, including Catherine Court, Mary Place, Kirinari and The Terraces. The projects were master planned and staged over time.
The design brief was to first and foremost maintain the pastoral quality of the school and its views to the river. Wilson Architects’ design amplifies the site’s prime inner-city position, while continuing the architectural language of the firm’s recent works at the school.
The spaces between buildings were not well considered in the past and had been minimised with ad-hoc interventions over time which had a detrimental effect on break-out, social learning and interaction opportunities. There was also very little undercover space across campus which was felt in inclement weather and in the heat of summer, as well as being a site that had very little disability access. These issues were addressed in the design planning.
Views across to the river from the Convent and city were careful managed so that the design didn’t alter or jeopardise the site’s historic setting. Significant historical timber garden pergolas were also retained.
The site, once constrained with obstructive retaining walls and tennis courts, has been reimagined as an inspiring courtyard space. Student workshops were organised to capture the needs of the girls who would use this space as their ‘territory’.
Two massive heritage-listed fig trees have painstakingly been retained. These trees have become the focus of the courtyard, providing an extensive shaded canopy for the students.
Trellising adjacent to the building provides a transition between building and courtyard. A bespoke fountain located centrally within Catherine Court, provides an activation of the space. The design respects the heritage of the site and through skilful interplay of hard landscape materials and the use of timber, stone and planting, all provide a great resource for the school.
Mary Place Courtyard
The middle school building ‘Mary Place’ comprises four stories of classrooms facing a new significant courtyard, multipurpose sports court and a newly landscaped court, Kirinari, in front of the Convent building. The design intent was to create a vibrant cool courtyard space, to encourage interaction and to extend learning opportunities.
The interior courtyard within Mary Place is formed between the new building and the rear wall of the Main building. It has been set up as a new social gathering space for students, closely connected to the heart of the school. The sheltered courtyard brings daylight deep into the plan and reinvigorates a previously neglected part of the School.
Architecturally, the building is ‘re-scaled’ compositionally to defer to the scale of the heritage buildings. The large trellis structure to Kemp Place has been designed to amplify the existing landscape and stone walls to the periphery of the school. Planted with the ‘Lady Bowen Creeper’, the green wall now blooms with bright orange flower.
A new public place has been established in front of the old Convent extension (1892). This space re-composes the relationship between the Convent and surrounding heritage buildings. Fortitude Valley to the north becomes an important and expansive landscape reference to the plaza spaces.
The ground plain draws reference to the original kitchen garden via modular shaped ‘plots’ of subtle coloured aggregate concrete. The extrusion of a brick faced raised garden harks back to the original gardens and their importance in the functioning of the Convent.
Other works include the formation of a single terrace to facilitate physical activities for an increasing number of students. The design prevents students falling over the brick retaining wall between the two existing terraces, which was previously a major issue for the school.
The project also included the reformation of the Grade 12 gathering space, previously located below a series of large Ficus trees on uneven brick paving. A new deck protects the tree roots and promotes the trees’ continuing health, while providing a setting that supports student socialisation.
What was once ill considered and remnant external spaces around buildings has been retained and enhanced. Existing significant trees and views to the river and city have now become an integrated and critical landscape that honours the past and supports the needs of students, staff and parents.
Complete Jan 2017
Beth Wilson, Ilka Salisbury, Phillip Lukin