Copper for new senior learning centre at Ravenswood School for Girls
BVN Architects designed the multifunctional senior learning centre at Ravenswood School for Girls in Gordon on Sydney’s North Shore, creating a landmark along the Pacific Highway.
The material palette required high proportions of recycled content and low embodied energy.
Copper was selected for the exterior, as it is robust, beautiful and will stand the test of time. A bespoke perforated solar screen, formed from Nordic Blue Living 3 pre-patinated copper, defines the new building.
BVN’s design optimises a 6,5m level difference across the site, with extensive glazing to the lower two floors that open onto terraces, a garden and other external space. Nordic Blue Living 3 copper screens were used on the two upper floors.
The roof form: Inspired by previous residential houses still on the Ravenswood campus, entails upper-level gabled facades.
Large window openings with deep, copper-clad reveals “punch” through the copper screen to break up the elevations, enable clear uninterrupted views across the grounds and introduce coloured light via glass bricks.
Assessments of facade materials
Different facade materials were assessed throughout the design phases via a series of in-context visualisations and samples of natural copper, various pre-aged copper surfaces and other metals.
According to Phillip Rowden, senior associate at BVN, Nordic Blue Living 3 pre-patinated copper was chosen for the perforated screens because of its striking colour contrast with the predominantly masonry surroundings on the campus.
Distinctive patterned screens
The perforated screens have a distinctive repeat pattern inspired by the shape of gum tree seedlings found on site. The screens were laser-cut into the pre-patinated copper sheets by a local fabricator.
The sub-framing had to be as light and unobtrusive as possible. The copper screens are in front of the building and mediate light and thermal penetration, reducing the cooling load whilst allowing the interiors to feel light and airy.
The combination of colours from framed areas of amber and blue glass bricks, vignettes of clear open views and areas with filtered light from the perforated copper screen give each space a unique feel and view.
Issue: To allow as much light to enter the building whilst keeping its privacy.
Solution: Patterned screens were used and also assisted in thermal penetration reducing the cooling load.