Can the design of a community inspire lifelong learning?

community inspires lifelong learning

Can the way we build our communities help people become lifelong learners?

The team behind Aura think so.

Australia’s largest Green Star-rated community on the Sunshine Coast, Aura is a place where learning is part of life.

The community, which will eventually be home to 50,000 people, is being designed to be a centre of education excellence by Australia’s largest residential developer Stockland.

Up to 20 education and learning centres are proposed to be developed within the community.

This includes as many as eight private schools and up to five public primary schools. An urban university, four early learning centres and two public high schools are also on the cards.

The first of these schools is a revolutionary new science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) state primary school, which is scheduled to open in 2018.

This new primary school, catering to students from Preparatory to Year 6, will feature state-of-the-art facilities made for learning, teaching and play, including a robotics lab, recording studio, innovation hub and an indoor sports and performance centre.

The school also incorporates world-class urban design with 37 classrooms configured over two storeys, creating more space for learning and play and allowing for greater community engagement.

Under this new model, the classrooms and associated facilities, such as auditoriums and sports fields, will be available for the entire community to use outside of school hours.

“This new school will truly promote lifelong learning and bring the community together, nurturing young minds and developing the talents and skills of the coast’s children,” says Stockland’s Development Manager, Hannah Madill.

“What’s most exciting is that the facilities have been designed so that they can be used by members of the public after school hours.”

Aura’s 6 Star Green Star rating is proof that the community has been designed to support future education and learning, ensuring everyone has the chance to learn and grow. At Aura, this means careful consideration of every element of the community from the ground up.

As Hannah explains, “Aura’s first school has been ideally located at the heart of this new community and development has been timed to ensure families who moved into the Aura community don’t need to travel further afield to send their kids to school.”

This is just one of many examples of how Aura promotes lifelong learning.

Promoting “citizen science” is another, says Mark Stephens, Stockland’s Senior Environment and Community Development Manager.

“Aura has been designed to honour its natural environment. To do this, we created an environmental protection zone of more than 700 hectares, or nearly one-third of the site, which will be rehabilitated and designated as a conservation area.”

To enhance the environmental conservation, Stockland is developing an environmental education facility and sustainability awareness programs which will promote lifelong learning among residents and local school children.

“The design of Aura will help people engage with their outdoor environment, and to work together to gain a better appreciation of conservation,” Mark says, adding that the local school has been “inundated” with kids wanting to learn more about science.

For example, more than 152 hectares of frog habitat is being created at Aura, including frog movement corridors and breeding ponds.

Frog expert Doctor Ed Meyer, from the School of Environmental and Applied Sciences at Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus, has visited Aura to educate students, staff and members of the Aura Community Advisory Group about the acid frog populations.

Whilst on site at Aura, Dr Meyer, together with Dr Mark Bayley from Australian Wetland Consulting and Mark Sanders from EcoSmart Ecology, tested water quality and planted native sedges. They also explained to students how people could maintain sedges by not allowing run-off of fertilisers or pollutants such as car washing detergent to reach the waterways.

“We are working with the local community to maintain this habitat, and to take part in pioneering research which is uncovering new insights to help preserve, create and maintain successful habitats for frogs,” Mark explains.

“It’s programs like these at Aura that provide solid foundations for a good quality STEM education.”

Enrolments for the new school at Aura have commenced. More information will be shared on the Aura Facebook page.

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