Cranbrook School Wolgan Valley

A campus to build resilience, extending and enriching the education of the individual, while developing the students' sense of responsibility towards one another.

Project team:
Andrew Burns, Casey Bryant, Noel Roche, Yiran Hu, Kate Fife, Jonathon Donnelly, Paul Coppere

Architecture AND has completed the first stage of a new rural campus for Cranbrook School, located in the Wolgan Valley, approximately 3 hours north-west of Sydney. The project creates a setting for immersive learning, challenging students through ‘rituals of stewardship’, actively participating in the operation of the buildings and the management of the site. The buildings are therefore both shelter and pedagogical tools – devices to heighten the experience of landscape and environmental systems.

Aerial perspective of the full campus.

The primary architectural gesture is the Crescent, extending around the natural bowl of the site and completing the arcing form of the escarpment. The buildings are anchored to the Crescent by a series of chimneys, recalling the remnant chimneys from the neighbouring historic town of Newnes. The buildings rise up from the Crescent to take in the dramatic form of the escarpment, illuminated by easterly morning light.

Plan - full campus.

Looking east towards Donkey Mountain - pizza oven, long table and kitchen.

A 'long table' is a social centrepiece of the site, comprising a 35m long site specific table that follows the curvature of the crescent and steps with the topography. A place for shared dining experiences under the stars.

The long table.

Buildings pragmatically follow the crescent in a segmented manner.

‘Rituals of stewardship’ are incorporated throughout the site experience, facilitated by the passive environmental technologies of the buildings. Students collect wood and operate the fire to provide hot water for the others in their lodge, via a wet-back combustion heater system. The ‘stewardship garden’ is gradually tended to by the students, contributing to environmental remediation of the site.

Communal kitchen.

The escarpment rises above.

The materiality is intentionally spare and robust; a simple palette of metallic cladding, timber internal lining, decking and flooring, and light toned masonry chimneys. This simplicity places focus on the activities held within the buildings and the landscape beyond.


French doors open from interiors to the verandah.

Site Plan.