The Friends’ School – W.N. Oats Centre

The Friends’ School – W.N. Oats Centre

Project Data


The Friends' School


Bence Mulcahy Architects


9 months


$5 million


Oct 2022

Having completed the construction of The Friends’ School’s new gym, Fairbrother’s attention turned to redeveloping the W.N. Oats Centre from a gymnasium into a teaching space. The project was negotiated directly with the client and is part of a larger campus redevelopment program. 

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The installation of a new suspended concrete floor provided the core of the transition, creating a second level, accessible by a new feature spiral steel staircase. The installation of a new lift, and a covered pedestrian linkway to existing buildings with a lightweight steel frame, glazed roof and steel handrail and balustrade ensures accessibility for all. 


Undertaking the project within the existing campus, and in an area with narrow streets and residential surroundings created challenges to site logistics and the typical building sequence. All aspects of the build were carefully planned and sequenced to ensure minimal disruption to nearby residents and school operations through careful scheduling of particular works (deliveries, cranes, working at heights) to holiday and low-traffic periods. 


Sustainability also was a core priority with this project, with new openings formed adjacent to existing windows on the northern façade to increase natural lighting, as well as energy efficient heating solar panels installed across a large area of the roof space. The Tasmanian oak timber flooring from the basketball court was recycled and installed in the feature staircase. The use of live plants to create green walls across areas of the interior also provide their own benefits to users of the building. 


Completed, the project is a successful achievement as part of The Friends’ School’s master plan to provide additional teaching spaces, and improving amenities, accessibility, and the student experience.