Notre Dame Centre, Our Lady of Sion College

With user comfort such a vital factor in student well-being, growth and achievement, the client sought to ensure spaces were socially and environmentally responsive in order to facilitate their goal of providing students with an effective independent and collaborative learning environment. In maximising concentration, stimulation and engagement, fundamental design principles such as passive solar design and mixed mode ventilation to garner daylight and fresh air, were embodied in the building design. The employment of these social and environmental principles in conjunction with acoustic, glare and temperature control for example, is crucial in achieving user comfort and lowering the environmental impact in educational buildings. As a result the building addresses ‘Green Star’ criteria (equivalent to LEED) and stringent government requirements including:
• Passive Solar Design – north-facing window hoods, east and west-facing sun screens and internal blinds to reduce glare and heat gain
• Environmentally conscious and low VOC material selection – including Cradle to Cradle carpet certification and 100% recycled carpet backing
• Water sensitive urban & landscape design – rain gardens for storm water detention, rainwater retention for toilet flushing, and water efficient internal wet-area fixtures and fittings
• Mixed mode ventilation – heating & cooling using mechanical, natural and heat stack ventilation
• Lighting – automatic controls and zoning adjacent to windows
• Flexible spaces – to increase the buildings’ efficiency and versatility within the same footprint
• Tree protection zones – for neighbouring and street trees

Key to the design and activation of this dynamic heart was the desire to soften the edges, creating and delineating space psychologically without objects. Shaw’s versatile Hexagon carpet tile range employed in the atrium spaces enabled a smooth transition from the square Color Frame carpet tiles of the learning spaces. In collaboration with Shaw’s US-based design team we played with the full Hexagon range, blending the randomly laid Hexagon Linear tiles into vibrant and playful accent clusters of Hexagon Linear Shift and Plane coloured tiles. These concentrate around communal tables, seating and locker nooks, break out spaces, tiered seating and presentation areas. In between these areas the randomly laid Hexagon Linear tile continues, not only connecting the accent clusters with a seamless Hexagon language but also creating a point of difference from the regular square tiles in the learning areas.

Rounding out the school master plan developed by our team in 2007, the facility was born from a need to provide a designated adult learning environment and to further foster the sense of belonging to a community embarking on their final years of school. Perched in the top corner of the school site, the project is not only a visible acropolis to the younger aspiring students but also seeks to actively engage students and teachers both internally and externally through clever connections into adjacent buildings and spaces. Translating the school's sense of community and college cohesion played a prominent role in the brief and design, ensuring the spaces would "cultivate independent and collaborative learning as well as student well-being". The building revolves around a double height atrium lit by two saw-tooth skylights. The central stair below wraps itself around Ground Floor tiered seating platforms and flows down into an informal sunken amphitheatre. A variety of study nooks set in and around the atrium and locker areas allow extended learning from formal teaching spaces as well as private study and social interactions. Basked in light, colour and texture this open, communal heart of the building allows students and teachers to look inwards from Ground and First Floor learning spaces, formal study zones, teacher stations and informal gathering areas to share in daily school life.


Melbourne, Australia

Design Firm

Law Architects


  • Higher Education
  • Collection

    Color Frame and Color Form

    Products Used

    color frame tile
    plane hexagon
    linear hexagon
    linear shift hexagon
    gradient tile


    2017 Design Award Category Winner