Paynter Dixon has partnered with Mount St Benedict College for more than 15 years, master planning and delivering educational facilities to meet the growing school population. This included the stand-out development of the Hildegard Centre for Creative and Performing Arts – delivered to strict deadline at the start of the 2019 academic year.
Hildegard Centre for Creative and Performing Arts
The new centre includes a 224-retractable seat multi-purpose performance space, eight peripatetic music practice rooms, dance and drama rooms complete with recording space, an outdoor rooftop area which doubles as pre-event space, and a foyer level outdoor forecourt.
Bushfire protection measures
Master planning of the site also led to the replacement of older buildings and repurposing poorly used spaces. Of note, the single-storey Block D building was replaced with a three-storey structure complete with a two-storey high sculpture of St Benedict. Located within a flame zone in a bushfire prone area of Sydney, the building was constructed with the highest rating of bushfire protection available with external shutters on fusible links which close for occupant protection in the event of a fire.
Student gathering place
While prominent, the existing courtyard was an uninviting area. Reimagined as a student sanctuary and gathering place, the area incorporated artificial turf and shelter areas to create an oasis within the school.
Significant expansion of the auditorium to include a new mezzanine level increased capacity by 30%. The engineering in the building is an exercise in structural gymnastics – an 18-metre slab is supported by a two-metre upturned beam without columns. There is exceptionally little movement tolerance due to the inclusion of an operable wall.
Redundant music rooms were converted into a vibrant new gymnasium space for the students and relocation of current gymnasium equipment. The old gymnasium was an undercroft space with little or no natural light and insufficient space to be fit for purpose.
The new gymnasium provides a far more inviting area with ample natural light and additional space for aerobic activities for the students. As part of the repurposing of the existing spaces, the previous Mount St. Benedict College seniors’ study area has a complete upgrade and expansion. The new area for the senior students provided a much larger and enhanced facility with a lunchroom and separate study area.