The Magnolia Courtyard, TAFE
North Sydney, NSW
Revitalising a harsh brutalist and neglected courtyard
The existing space was found to be isolated and visually uninviting as a result of overgrown vegetation. Access into the courtyard could be gained solely through the adjacent building’s fire escape which resulted in minimal usage of the space and a lack cohesion with the wider campus. A collaborative approach between disciplines was adopted from an early design stage to improve connectivity between the courtyard and the broader campus with the aim of creating a new heart of the Institute. Integration of new doors, stairs and ramps from the main ground floor level further encourages students to meet and gather in the revitalised space.
The building cleverly disguises the complex courtyard that sits bounded by its four walls. With proposed access into the courtyard from both the ground and lower floor levels, including access from plant rooms, fire escapes and student common rooms, many constraints were presented from initial stages. Retaining an existing large Magnolia tree presented further challenges in achieving desired levels in respect to numerous door openings and accessible ramp grades. The resulting designs have provided a multilayered and flexible space, offering opportunities for outdoor learning, formal class structures, private study sessions, as well as a space to both relax and socialise.