Westbourne Grammar School - Science Centre

Year: 2005 - 2008

Westbourne Grammar School’s Science Centre demonstrates the exciting possibilities of being able to retrofit outdated buildings to significantly improve the Environmentally Sustainable Design performance. Recycling the embodied energy of an existing building for new needs is a highly effective way of minimising waste of our precious global resources. To that end, the original concrete structure was stripped back to expose thermal mass for improved cooling and heating performance. Rainwater recycling, natural daylighting, photo-voltaics, low energy lights and ceiling-mounted hydronic heating panels coordinate for frugal energy usage with high levels of comfort. Minimalist and strategic design has produced a sophisticated, controllable passive cooling and natural cross ventilation system.

This 1981 laboratory building has been updated into a technological, sustainable wonder. Fresh air is cooled by manifolds in an underground rainwater tank added to
the facility’s south side and induced through the building’s louvered glazed partitions by thermal chimneys added to the facility’s north side. The additions are lightweight construction to minimise embodied energy.

The thermal chimneys are layered in front of the existing façade, forming a series of glazed shafts inserted between existing brick piers. Photo- voltaic panels form part of the process of ESD education by contributing electricity to power equipment.

The interior has been remodelled to improve natural day- lighting and cross ventilation by using glazed partitions with grilles. The laboratories include serviced, stainless steel benches that pivot, allowing the laboratory layout to easily change to suit different groupings. Laboratories can be opened up to connect directly with seminar spaces, the student research library and state-of-the-art digital display technology.

Juror Carol Cash states that she liked the project “because it took an older building and updated it for the 21st century, using sustainable features.”