$15m school redevelopment

SPANNING four years and five stages, the $15 million redevelopment of St Patrick's Primary School has opened a world of new possibilities for staff and students, principal Kathy Fuller said yesterday.

Fulton Trotter Architects said they were faced with several design challenges when redeveloping the school: a small site, the need to adapt a heritage-listed building into classroom space and student amenities and a desire to be sympathetic to Gympie's only Catholic church.

After an intensive consultation process with the school parish, the architects created a playful and forward-looking design that echoed elements of St Patrick's history.

"Site constraints are celebrated with the introduction of interconnected classrooms that have inspired new teaching methods," she said.

"The school hall includes a vertical folding door that opens up the building's entire face, making it an extension of the playground and lawn area and giving students an alternative play space.

"But perhaps what stands out most is how FTA has approached even the most pedestrian of schoolyard utilities with thought and whimsy.

"New toilet blocks feature artworks of cart wheeling children and nursery rhymes. A rainbow of colour wraps the entire length of a corridor lined with pin boards. Cantilevered boxes within the school library frame views of the surrounding countryside, while smaller niche windows that punctuate the shelving are also charmingly child-sized seats."

Great care was taken through the use of colour and symbolism to visually connect the new designs with the church and the heritage listed building.

"Ultimately, the redevelopment has provided the parish with a variety of flexible and fun spaces that inspire beauty and wonder which captures the essence of what childhood is all about."

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