St Mary’s High School



Webber was invited by the Catholic Schools Office Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle to participate in an architectural competition for the expansion and reconfiguration of St Mary’s High School, Gateshead NSW.

A review of the area’s secondary school structures determined a need for the school to move from a Years 7-10 high school to a Years 7-12 high school accommodating around 1190 students. The site is approximately 3.5 hectares in area and sits within an established residential area. The school fronts the Pacific Highway and has residential neighbours on most boundaries and St Paul’s Primary School adjacent. The current school was a mixture of buildings of differing ages and conditions.

Key Feature of the project

It was important that the design be ecologically sustainable thus low energy systems were incorporated into the overall design. It was also important that the overall design be adaptable to allow for the changing
needs of the school over time, that the materials selected minimised the school’s ongoing maintenance and that the new facilities be accessible by people with a disability.

Our design improved traffic circulation and parking issues, defined the point of entry, produced a more inspired outdoor space, and allowed for the option of more open and collaborative learning practices. A
new administration building provided a new gateway entry and frontage; a new covered outdoor amphitheatre linked the administration building and entry with the main quadrangle; a new Library Hub was located in the heart of the school and on a raised building platform over the quadrangle to provide part weather protection to the external play space and the senior school was placed at the rear of the site linked  to a dedicated Learning Centre. Our design incorporated symbolism of the Catholic faith and beliefs of the church into the architecture of the building structure and facade.