StPatsTech – A Grand Design

PMoeck (Demo)

For architect, Peter Moeck, designing a successful building is more about the outcomes for the people inhabiting that space than awards and praise.

Peter, who has been St Patrick’s Technical College’s architect since before a site for the school was even selected, recently returned to the college to oversee its new $120,000, 150-square-metre extension. The expansion will provide more space for the School of Building & Construction, in particular for wet trade specialities.

A specialist in educational architecture, Peter said when StPatsTech (then known as the Australian Technical College – Northern Adelaide) was being designed, modular systems were hugely popular for schools. However, not a fan of the modular model, Peter said he was happy when the project partners agreed StPatsTech should be a purpose-built facility.

“You have got to purpose-build because the results are enduring and robust,’’ he said.

“Of the three technical colleges in South Australia, and all were different – this (StPatsTech) was the only one that was purpose-built. There were some big picture decisions which went down the sustainable pathway and they were purpose-built so the outcome has been a hundred times better and so much more cost effective.’’

Peter said the brief for the design was to produce a campus that was sympathetic to its industrial surroundings but to be contemporary and comfortable, have the maximum floor space, be highly functional and be cost effective.

He said his favourite part of the campus is the large 64 metre long, three metre high rusted steel screen which runs the length of the Hooke Road side of the campus. The screen was made in consultation with the College’s Operations Manager, Greg Collins, and Groundplay’s Gregg Mitchell and Greg Healey. It features laser cut patterns as well as galvanised steel industrial symbols to represent the College’s programs.

“That vista had to say ‘vocational experience’ and capture the five original trades. It is an iconic statement,’’ Peter said.

“It breaks the mould a bit without stating the bleeding obvious and it’s a little bit quirky.”

Since completion of the campus in 2007, Peter has returned to the College to design additions and extensions such as the science pods, new learning spaces and a reconfiguration of the library.

“There is still a core group of people who have been with StPatsTech since the beginning that gives a connectivity to this place.’’

Peter said he enjoyed building those working relationships with the staff but overwhelmingly the most pride he felt for the project came from seeing the spaces used for their purpose and the success stories which come from the College.

“There is a pride there but the pride doesn’t come from ‘it’s a great building’, it comes from what’s happening in that building,’’ Peter said.

“When the school produced its Interim report and hearing from the South Australian Apprentice of the Year, Jack Donaldson, who attended the school, that really resonates with me. I feel like I’ve been involved in something bigger than just a building.’’

The project, which was done while Peter was at architecture firm Brown Falconer, has received a number of awards including the Architecture Award for Public Architecture, a Commendation for Collaborative Design and the Colorbond Award for Excellence in Steel Architecture from the Australian Institute of Architects SA Chapter in 2009.

Peter is a Registered Architect in SA. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects and the Past Chair of the Association for Learning Environments SA Chapter Australasia Region.

Peter received the inaugural Robert Denyer Cheesman Award for Best Practice in Architecture 2013 from the Architectural Practice Board of SA on 29 January 2014. The award recognises that architecture is for and about people, and that long term relationships based on trust and rapport have immense value.

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