Cool school emerges from UTS’s Kuring-gai campus
From its distinctive bright green carpet to the koi fishpond at the main entry, UTS’s former bush campus in the leafy northern Sydney suburb of Lindfield was certainly unconventional – something staff and alumni based there back in the day will no doubt remember fondly.
It’s been more than three years since the Kuring-gai campus closed and its Health and Arts and Social Sciences programs moved to the city, following the relocation of the UTS Business School to the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building. Yet, despite the passing of time, the campus retains its place in the history and hearts of UTS and its founding institutions.
Originally home to the Guring-gai people, the land was acquired by the Commonwealth in 1915 for use as a rifle range. The 1970s marked its emergence as an education campus, with the relocation of the William Balmain Teachers College, which later expanded its remit to become the Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education, which in turn merged with UTS in 1990.
Over 40 years, it’s estimated that around 40,000 Kuring-gai students graduated from programs spanning education, nursing, library studies, business, law and sport management.
While its university days may be over, the campus’s education legacy continues, with the building now reborn as a public school for K-12, one that continues the somewhat unconventional traditions of its predecessor.
Known as Lindfield Learning Village, the school may be free of green carpet (and the koi, which were rehomed), but it is anything but bland. The fuchsia handrails on the stairs have survived, and vibrant splashes of colour throughout the school’s learning spaces announce it as a school that’s not afraid to do things differently.
Echoing UTS’s new ways of learning and working in distinctive world-class facilities, the school has abandoned traditional grade levels and classrooms. Instead, the 350 students currently enrolled learn through collaborative, multi-disciplinary projects in open spaces, around symbolic ‘waterholes’ and ‘campfires’ – appropriate given the campus’s natural setting.
Eventually, Lindfield Learning Village will accommodate up to 2000 students from kindergarten to year 12, each progressing according to their ability by taking “ownership of their learning pathway”, according to the principal, Stephanie McConnell. Additional facilities will open for the start of the 2020 school year, with final works on the school likely to be complete by early 2021.
While its purpose and interior decor may have transformed, the exterior of the Brutalist building remains substantially the same. Heritage features of the 1978 Sulman Medal-winning building have been retained and its bold architecture still provides the same striking contrast to the tranquil, leafy surrounds of the Lane Cove National Park.
So, for all those who have happy memories of their days as a staff member or student at UTS’s Kuring-gai campus (excepting, perhaps, that day in 1993 when a bushfire came a little too close for comfort!) let’s hope that the same warmth and comradery is enjoyed by generations to come.