Cemintel meets demand for tough, maintenance-free materials at Sydney school


Cemintel® products were an important part of the material palette selected for a new building at the Macarthur Anglican School in south-west Sydney. The school’s new Center for Integrated Studies uses Cemintel Barestone and Surround for interior and exterior surfaces to create a thoughtful, creative and hardworking educational space.

Schools are very demanding environments, constantly exposed to the vagaries of daily play and the constantly changing use of educational spaces, which requires the use of super resistant materials.

The dossier for the school’s new center for integrated studies specified that the materials had to be resistant and require little maintenance.

The Anglican Macarthur School contracted Mayoh Architects to design the centre, which combines science, design and technology, art, ICT, agriculture and mathematics in a single facility.

The curved two-level design revolves around a landscaped garden, allowing for interdisciplinary study so students can interact with each other through the co-location of labs, workshops, classrooms and spaces of relaxation.

Interior spaces

A design highlight is the seminar room in the building, which allows for year-round learning and helps prepare senior students for college, says Kent Palmer, IT systems and special projects administrator. from school. The bleachers are surrounded by walls clad in Cemintel Barestone complemented by acoustic tiles.

“The Cemintel Barestone is magnificent; we love this look. It’s not just poured concrete, it’s so much more,” says Palmer.

The use of Barestone for certain elements of the interior means that the seminar room is visually connected to the striking exterior – also including Barestone with Cemintel Surround Blackish – to create a cohesive design that links the two environments.


Project architect Jonathan Henley of Mayoh explains that Barestone was chosen to clad the building for many reasons.

“We liked that it was prefinished,” says Henley. “Because it’s a school, we wanted something very sturdy and that wouldn’t have long maintenance schedules. The school didn’t want to have to repaint every two years. It was definitely an attraction with Cemintel. It’s also in a bushfire area, so we couldn’t use combustible siding. »

The addition of Cemintel Surround Blackish to the exterior adds to the sleek contemporary look of the building and allows Barestone to be the heroic surface.

The natural choice

“The whole building is designed on the philosophy of biophilia, so it’s basically in touch with nature,” says Henley. “We wanted a material with a natural feel and Barestone had that look of natural concrete. And it contrasted well with the wood or wood look products we were using.

“It was an aesthetic that we wanted, but it also came from the school, which was really passionate about sustainability and biophilia. For them, it’s a completely different architectural style than what they had before, it’s “that is, a style of red brick and tin roof. They changed the architect, they changed the style, and they even changed their whole pedagogy of the way they teach, going from classrooms standard for cross-disciplinary collaborations. That’s really where they’re trying to move in, and that’s how the building was designed.

Link to green space

The school is located on 85 acres, including a working farm for agriculture students, so Henley says it was important to specify materials that complemented the surrounding open spaces.

“I think the mix of Dark Surround, Barestone and wood was the aesthetic we were going for, surrounded by greenery inside and out, which brought out the greenery,” he says.

Because Barestone is made locally, material delays were minimized during construction, which was largely done during the extended 2021 lockdown.

Acoustic support

Acoustic management is always a challenge in a school, especially for STEAM subjects. Henley therefore relied on CSR products to help with the acoustics of the new building. With many noisy events occurring throughout the building during an average school day, including the use of industrial machinery, it was important to keep noise transfer to a minimum.

Bradford Acoustigard insulation (75mm and 90mm) was specified for the walls and roof for acoustic and thermal comfort, while Gyprock Rigitone Matrix 8mm Round ceilings were chosen to minimize sound transfer between the two levels of the building. Indeed, the ceilings are particularly impressive, with the plasterwork configured around the curves of the rooms, while maintaining acoustic integrity.


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