Revolution at Rangi Ruru Girls' School
Rangi Ruru Girls’ School in Christchurch is undergoing a revolution.
After the Christchurch earthquakes, a number of school buildings were removed and others deemed uneconomic to repair. Instead of taking the traditional, evolutionary approach and replacing the buildings it had lost, the school decided, to take the opportunity to completely review, revise and potentially rebuild much of the school in a completely different shape and form.
School Principal, Julie Moor says unprecedented opportunities lie ahead for the school community.
“Rangi Ruru is 123 years old and yet we are able to start from a position where we can plan, design and implement a student centred learning environment, using the latest design and “fit out”, focused totally on creating the best educational environment for the next 100 years,” she says.
Ms Moor says Rangi Ruru aims to reshape the school, while taking more than a hundred years of tradition and history with them.
“Our history is important to us and yet we are educating girls to live in an increasingly global, flexible, and inter-connected future. To meet this challenge we are reshaping our teaching and learning in terms of both how and what we teach, while retaining the wonderful history that is inextricably linked to this site and the school as a whole,” she says.
Entitled ‘Project Blue Sky’, the significant and exciting project has had input from many groups and individuals, including the school community, and others in education, environmental planning, engineering, and design.
For the master plan and campus design, the school needed a partner with broad experience in a range of education design projects. Following an extensive selection process involving architectural and design companies from New Zealand and Australia, the school has contracted architects, McIldowie Partners, an award winning Melbourne based practice. The Rangi Ruru project team will be led by Stewart Barnett (for Rangi Ruru) and McIldowie Partners Director, Craig Brown (lead architect).
Craig Brown agrees with Julie Moor that the redevelopment of Rangi Ruru will provide the school and students with a rare and wonderful opportunity.
“Usually schools add on to current buildings and facilities as the need arises whereas Rangi Ruru is taking a very different approach and is able to redevelop the school site in its entirety. The project team is designing a school environment for 21st century learners,” he says.
The school site, which covers the majority of the land between Merivale Lane, Rossall Street and Hewitts Rd, is the perfect canvas for developing a 21st century school. The size of the site is crucial to the school’s ability to undertake a project of this magnitude whilst minimising the impact on students.
Apart from the modern Boarding House and the two heritage buildings on site - the Te Koraha homestead and the St Andrew’s at Rangi Ruru Church - all school buildings are in the mix.