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22 June 2020

St Paul’s College, Balwyn, has received a commendation for its state-of-the-art design, helping to transform the lives of students with complex disabilities.

In 2019 the school’s designer, ClarkeHopkinsClarke, secured a win in Learning Environments Australasia’s (Victorian Chapter) Awards for Excellence in Educational Facility Design (renovation/modernisation over $5 million category). This win took them to the regional awards earlier this month, where they were up against designers from Australia, South-East Asia and the South Pacific.

St Paul’s College principal Tim Hemphill wasn’t surprised ClarkeHopkinsClarke was honoured with a commendation. Shared spaces including staff retreats, a multi-purpose Discovery Centre and an atmospheric Sensory Room with state-of-the-art interactive LUMES light panels have been hugely beneficial to the school community. ‘The design has provided an amazing learning environment for our students and teachers. It facilitates collaborative planning and sharing of skills, knowledge and experience. It also helps our partnerships with mainstream schools for dual enrolment students by creating a warm, inviting environment for meetings and professional learning.’

The design has had a profound impact on the entire school community since they moved from Kew in January 2019. Simon Le Nepveu, ClarkeHopkinsClarke Education Partner, says the key to St Paul’s design success was getting everyone on board at the outset. ‘Our planning process was very consultative and allowed us to condense six months of stakeholder engagement into one. We earned the support of key stakeholders by showing what’s possible in a purpose-built environment, and by developing a very detailed program of requirements. Once parents and teachers understood the design process and its potential, their excitement and input grew.