St James Catholic Primary School
Architect: Baldasso Cortese
Builder: Bowden Corporation
Fabricator: MRI Aluminium Windows
About the project
The recent refurbishment of St James’ Catholic Primary School in Brighton Victoria flagged a number of design challenges – how can traditions be sensitively updated? Could St James Primary School’s rich traditions be visually referenced with the use of contemporary building materials to take the school confidently into the future?
While the sleek, open look of the St James refurbishment stands out on many levels, an observer would notice the project’s centrepiece – the sensitively sculpted archways, echoing the gothic curves of the Catholic Church situated in the school’s grounds.
This visual motif contained its own design task, embodied by the Capral window systems used in the new construction. ‘Among the renovation’s chief challenges was ensuring the arches of the shrouds precisely matched the arches of the windows,’ says Ben Percy, Senior Architect at Baldasso Cortese.
Among the many architects working with Capral, the theme of quality is recurrent. ‘We use Capral extensively in our work, because what we’re looking for is a reliable product,’ observes Ben. ‘So, with an industry which involves so many new and established players, everything specified must perform at the highest level.’
This project was an ideal example. ‘We designed some extremely tight curved radiuses on the arches’ external façade, encouraging us to push the product in new directions,’ Ben says. ‘The windows we used to fit to those tight radiuses were Capral’s 325 Series. We use Capral extensively, as it’s a reliable product which has undergone rigorous testing.’
The dramatic curves of the windows are mirrored in the building’s striking interior concrete shells, forming serene reading spaces and flexible ‘study nooks’ situated throughout the interior’s curved walls. The semicircular window spaces extend throughout many of the classrooms and recreational spaces.
The impressive capabilities of Capral’s 419 Flushline and Capral’s 325, 400, 425 Narrowline window suites were drawn upon for the renovation’s interior. Rooms are opened right up, giving each space an airy and welcoming feel – key assets in this progressive educational facility.
One of the renovation’s defining features is the use of glazing to ‘dissolve’ solid spaces and create productive visual conversations between adjoining areas. As an example, a study area is flanked by two full walls of Capral ‘s Narrowline Series windows, providing students with inspiring views while creating a sense of openness that enhances learning.
Having the glazing and window systems locally supplied creates a sense of confidence. ‘Capral is manufactured and tested locally, ensuring that the window systems meet all required standards,’ says Effie Bakkalis, Administration Manager at MRI Windows. ‘This level of safety reassurance is particularly important with educational buildings such as St James Catholic Primary School.’
This bold use of Capral’s quality window systems has resulted in a series of uplifting areas where students can study, socialise and thrive.
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