Year 11/12 Winner:
Natalie Hardy
Gungahlin College

Student Summary:

A schoolyard should provide students, and occasionally teachers, with a fun and exciting atmosphere with feelings of relaxation, and the redesigned courtyard has been designed to accomplish these emotions. The original schoolyards layout has little access for people with injuries or those who require wheelchair access into the schoolyard. To ensure this is improved, the original schoolyard's layout has been altered. This alteration consists of ramps located near each set of stairs and wider pathways.

To ensure the schoolyard is a successful design, slides, badminton rackets, and ping pong tables have been incorporated to produce feelings of fun and excitement. A greenhouse, sheltered areas, and a series of compact folding picnic tables have also been included to provide students with a relaxing atmosphere and an escape from the busy classroom environment. The greenhouse will also provide the school with an option for added courses or co-curricular opportunities (such as gardening classes/ clubs etc.). These aspects create a courtyard that is meaningful for a community, which applies to people who desire either a fun environment or a relaxing environment. These aspects, therefore, encourage social interactions between students and creates a welcoming environment.

Gungahlin Collage's original schoolyard design is strongly consisted of grey slabs of pavement and concrete to construct the flooring. However, this created a bland colour palette and did not produce a feeling of excitement for students. To improve this in the redesigned schoolyard, the pavement is coloured with the school logos colour palette (green, orange, and blue). This provides a bright and welcoming feel for students. The inclusion of a specific colour palette was inspired by primary school playgrounds and how they incorporate bright colours to produce emotions that may not be seen in the classroom and promote outdoor activities.

The redesigned schoolyard has been designed to ensure safety within the new equipment, which can be seen with the sides. On each side of the slide, a large concrete wall has been placed to ensure no one falls and no one walks across it as a shortcut. The slide also stretches a long distance after it completes the steep decline along the stairs. This is to ensure the ride finishes slowly and provides safety for students. Large walls have also been included in areas where there is an elevation change, such as in the separation with the middle of the schoolyard with the front and back of the courtyard.

Overall, this redesigned schoolyard design intends to suit different target audiences who require fun or relaxation in a schoolyard. Not only does it suit different personalities, but also improves access in the form of ramps to create a welcoming environment. A bright colour palette, the inclusion of slides, and a greenhouse have been included to remind students in years 10-12 how a school can be fun and remind them of their primary school days


Jury Comments

The jury were impressed at Natalie Hardy’s design thinking in her courtyard vision for Gungahlin College. Her analysis gave careful consideration around user needs of access, relaxation and fun.  The result is a practical design that works with existing structures in playful and creative ways.