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St Leonards TAFE - The Magnolia Courtyard

Openness and transparency for greater connection

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NBRS was tasked with the relocation of Children’s Services facilities to The Northern Sydney Institute at St Leonard’s, working as a collaborative multi-discipline team and lead consultant in the major refurbishment.

The overall design makes adaptive re-use of the brutalist 1960s building previously occupied by the engineering facility, in particular revitalising a harsh and neglected courtyard to create a vibrant, engaging open space instead.

From an initial landscape planning exercise, the previous space was found to be isolated and visually uninviting due to overgrown vegetation. Sole access into the courtyard was through the adjacent building’s fire escape which resulted in minimal usage of the space and a lack cohesion with the wider campus. To address this connectivity issue, a collaborative approach between disciplines was adopted from an early design stage with the aim of creating a new heart of the Institute. Integration of new doors, stairs and ramps from the main ground floor level further encourages students to meet and gather in the revitalised space around the existing Magnolia tree by which the courtyard is named.

Tiered concrete seating disguises a complicated level change while providing a functional element that is adaptable to various users and scenarios. The geometric form of the seating around two sides of the courtyard allows for amphitheater style presentations to be held for multiple groups concurrently. The seating also separates the upper lawn terrace (designed to host large and small events) from the lower break out space that promotes relaxation and includes a communal table tennis table.

The resulting design is a student-orientated learning environment that is functional and adaptable, providing open and transparent environments to encourage usage whilst considering the key viewpoints from levels above.

Landscape ArchitectureDiscipline
St Leonards, NSWLocation
Northern Sydney Institute TAFEClient
Landscape Architecture
St Leonards, NSW
Northern Sydney Institute TAFE
Andrew Leuchars
Director, Principal - Landscape Architecture
Andrew Leuchars
Director, Principal - Landscape Architecture

Get in touch to talk to us about outdoor learning environments

Andrew Leuchars

“The joy of landscape architecture is the ability to create environments and create experiences that improve the quality of life.”