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Classroom structure wins

The award-winning innovative learning spaces at Douglas Park School. PHOTO/MURRAY ROBERTSON

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A classroom redesign project that began as “a few holes in the wall” has gone on to win Douglas Park School an award for innovative learning spaces.

The Masterton school was recognised last week by winning an award in the Renovation/Modernisation under $500,000 Category at the first Learning Environments New Zealand Awards.

The classrooms were officially opened this year after a four-year transformation in which 11 separate classrooms became three innovative learning spaces.

The classrooms were designed by architect Murray Robertson of Robertson Architecture Design in Lower Hutt.

Robertson has worked on projects all over the country for the past 25 years, both big and small, including building new schools in Christchurch.

But the job at Douglas Park School was a special one because it was the first job he had done since starting his own practice in 2016.

“It’s nice that with quite a small budget we could help the school work the way they wanted to work,” he said.

“They seem really happy.”

Robertson said the school was great to work with and over time the project developed from “putting a few holes in the wall” to something much better.

“The school has some innovative thinking and the spaces have just enabled the pretty cool things they are doing there.”

Douglas Park principal Gareth Sinton said he was “very proud” the school had won the top award, and had received a congratulatory message from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office.

“Our new spaces were formally opened and blessed earlier this year and have now been recognised nationally for their educational excellence,” he said.

The judges’ citation recognised the learning environments for their “flexibility, variety and connectedness without a large budget”, and called it a “commendable scheme” which stemmed from the partnership between the design team and the school over a long period of time.

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