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A memorable year for Barker College

The opening of a new Senior School Hub at its Hornsby campus and taking home the top gong at the 2023 Australian Education Awards have capped off a year of achievement for the co-educational Anglican school.

It has been a memorable year for Barker College with the announcement in August that the Head of Barker, Mr Phillip Heath AM, was named School Principal of the Year (non-government) and also achieved the much-lauded award of Australian School Principal of the Year at the 2023 Australian Education Awards.

Always energetic and consistently forward-thinking, Mr Heath’s leadership brings a first-rate school education to Barker’s students and enables a vibrant community to flourish so that it is a place of belonging for all.

A month earlier, Barker College’s new Senior School Hub, a building designed to serve future generations of Barker students, opened.

When architects, Architectus, began this journey of design with Barker in 2019 they proposed a point of difference with a hybrid timber-framed building, with two levels of engineered-timber framing built upon a robust concrete base.

“Barker College is to be commended for its early embracing of this environmentally sustainable method of construction that realises a highly responsible precedent for others to aspire towards,” Mr Luke Johnson, Principal at Architectus said.

“Spaces have been designed to make visible the activities of education, to connect students with students, to connect students with teachers, to bring people together for group interactions and focussed self-directed study, and to be the platforms upon which some of their most important educational experiences will take place.”

Barker is committed to enhancing its natural environments through well-considered design solutions, so the careful placement of this building has been mindful of preserving mature trees by staggering its physical form to avoid impacting their roots and canopies.

The use of timber is a breakthrough in sustainability and physical beauty. Buildcorp advised that during the construction, 242 tonnes of glulam beams and columns and 3,500m2 of cross laminated timber were installed into the structure of the building, which was completed in 11 weeks. These numbers equate to a total of thirty-six containers procured from local and overseas suppliers in Australia and Austria.

Stephen Surjan, operations manager at Buildcorp, said his team is incredibly proud to have delivered the state-of-the-art learning environment which represents the next stage of the Barker College masterplan.

“The new building has been thoughtfully integrated into the existing environment through multiple link bridges, free flowing landscaping areas and stands proud as a striking landmark in the Barker College campus,” he said.

This landmark project has led the way for sustainable education buildings for the future by incorporating sustainable and environmentally friendly material choices.

“When comparing the Senior School Hub to a similar building framed with concrete, the mass timber-framed solution is estimated to save approximately 26% in upfront carbon emissions,” Surjan said.

“This comparison provides an estimated reduction in carbon emissions of 1,092 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e), which can be likened to that produced by 130 homes annually.”

“So, how did we ever exist without this building?” school vice-captain Caleb Stace asked guests at the official opening earlier this year.

“The question seems straightforward right now, because until now, we’ve thrived without it. But I think there’s a great beauty in that question becoming harder and harder to answer, harder and harder to remember, as time grafts this building into the definition of the Barker experience,” he said.

“Psalm 127:1 says, ‘Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labour in vain.’ The team has done an incredible job, but I believe that this building is also God’s provision. And so we pray that by God’s kindness, Barker students might one day wonder, ‘How did we ever exist without it?”.

As students at the official opening were reminded, this is a building in which learning is celebrated, staff are supported, and wellbeing is allowed to thrive.

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