05 Dec 23

Woods Bagot doubles award-winning education design team

Rooftop basketball court at Mosman High School on Sydney’s north shore.

Demand is driving the expansion of Woods Bagot’s education team and further sector growth is forecast.

Architecture studio Woods Bagot has doubled its NSW education team from 20 to 40 designers in the past year as demand for its award-winning work in the sector increases with nine primary, secondary and tertiary design projects now under way.

Woods Bagot is a leader in education and learning design. Its work on Meadowbank Schools won Best School and Best Use of Colour at the World Architecture Festival last year ahead of 17 short-listed schools from China, Australia, India, Denmark, US and Spain.

In July, it completed an extension to Mosman High School on Sydney’s north shore, the outcome embodying the school’s performing arts values, the rich heritage significance of the site and future learning.

Current projects are Cumberland High School, Wentworth Point High School, Carlingford West Primary School, Castle Hill Primary School, St Mary’s Cathedral College and De La Salle Catholic College Cronulla. It also has three tertiary projects in Sydney while the Melbourne studio is working on several university jobs in Victoria and Tasmania.

Georgia Singleton, Global Leader of Education and Science at Woods Bagot, said Woods Bagot’s education team has developed deep expertise, thrives on challenges and is always looking to innovate.

Mosman High School designed by Woods Bagot.

“All the schools we work on have a particular architectural challenge, which is where Woods Bagot excels,” says Singleton.

“For example, at Meadowbank everyone was expecting a vertical school, but our team led by Ian Lomas decided to tip the design on its side and make the school part of the landscape thereby giving each student access to nature.  

“Mosman was in a conservation area and on a tight site, yet we made it work it as a comfortable new addition to the urban village, and also delivered on the bespoke brief to service the school’s strong performing arts identity.”

Chris Savva, Sydney Studio Education Sector Leader, says at Fern Bay Public School near Newcastle, Woods Bagot designed the first pre-fabricated pavilion school in NSW.

“The pattern is we’re creating leading projects, we’re innovating and doing interesting, challenging work that breaks the mould.” he says.

Savva adds that a great school design is one that serves both students and staff.

“What makes a good school? I think it’s how it relates to individual students. You picture the scale of the student, you picture the scale of the building, and you try to make the building relate – in size, in tactility, in interest while providing nurturing environments through great ventilation and natural light.

“You’re always picturing the needs of both kids and staff – happy staff equals good teaching. So if the staff are happy and well, and they also have good facilities and the opportunity to retreat and collaborate in healthy working environments, then they’ll teach better.”

Looking ahead, Savva says the biggest challenge facing education is designing and building schools faster to keep up with population growth.

“There is an element of standardization we are involved in creating because of the need to build these schools quickly to keep up with population growth. We’re mindful of doing that, while still retaining the original intent, which is designing for students and staff.”


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Martin Kelly
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