The facade of a building is never seen in isolation, it takes on meaning from its surrounding context. The Terraçade and brick facade of Notre Dame College, in Shepparton, Victoria is an exemplar facade of harmonising new buildings with existing streetscape.
The college’s new Bishop Joe Grech Science Centre complements the surrounding streetscape with a long and low two-storey form, featuring a Terraçade and brick material palette. “One of the key design objectives was to reinforce the school’s presence along Knight Street by maintaining a strong built form to the campus edge” recalls Nic Lymn, senior project architect at Baldasso Cortese, a Melbourne/Christchurch-based firm with a strong focus on educational buildings.
Adopting a 6-metre setback in line with those buildings adjacent and opposite, the long and low profile complements the scale of its neighbours – a mixture of heritage, educational and commercial buildings. With a plan form inspired by funnel-shaped eel traps once used by the local Indigenous people, the building is wider at one end than the other, with a circulation spine running length-ways through the centre. The main entrance is located at the western end of the building and oriented towards the pedestrian crossing on Knight Street, while secondary entrances provide access from within the school grounds.
Openable glazed doors linking to outdoor learning areas soften both the exterior building form and vertical scale of the building along the streetscape and campus, while the lighter-coloured upper storey clad in white Terracade tiles assists in reducing the visual impact of the height of the building.
Baldasso Cortese selected external building materials and colours to complement the existing buildings, and that would require little maintenance on behalf of the college. This includes red brick, glazing and Terraçade cladding. “Our preference was for a terracotta external cladding material that could be fabricated and brought to site pre-finished. Terraçade XP Smooth represented a contemporary, yet robust façade cladding which met this brief,” Nic explains.
The project team required a non-standard Terraçade tile to meet its design requirements, and worked closely with Terraçade Product Manager Luke Parker, as well as the Head Contractor and an experienced installer to ensure the final result was practical, achievable and well-coordinated.
The specified 1200-millimetre Terraçade tile doubled the length of the standard 600-millimetre XP Smooth tile, for which Brickworks Building Products undertook engineering tests to ensure it would fit the proprietary installation rails and support system. “In keeping with the scale of the building and the expression of the horizontal plane, we felt this tile format better suited the project requirements,” Nic continues. The spacing of expansion joints, which are also built into the system, have been calculated to make sure the tiles can accommodate thermal expansion & building movement.
Baldasso Cortese also specified a whiter finish than standard, for which Brickworks Building Products carried out product testing to ensure the nominated “Brilliant White” glaze could be achieved without sacrificing the performance of the tile. Once the engineering tests were completed, the installation process went ahead efficiently.
Small details make a difference; the incorporation of Terracade façade systems at Notre Dame College is a functional and aesthetic gesture towards integrating the building within its local context.
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