Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School

Ewingsdale near Byron Bay NSW 1989 –

STORY by Toni Appleton

I have had a twenty-two year history of association with the Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School as the designer of all but one of the buildings and evolving the masterplan of the campus.

The site is a small knoll at the base of the Saint Helena escarpment and is perfectly orientated towards the north and east with Cape Byron visible to the southeast.  It was constrained at first by lack of road access and electricity but the determination and enthusiasm of the school community overcame these and many other hurdles in the early years.  The first on-site effluent system in NSW using wetland treatment was licensed here, and the school was solar powered until 2005 when it went grid interactive, generating up to 80% of its power needs.

The original vision for the school was for a primary campus, and the buildings were set out in a simple spiral starting at the highest point of the knoll, and opening at the western end to the ‘wide world’.  The structure of Rudolf Steiner education meant that another classroom was added each year, so that the design process was evolving with the community’s response to the site.  The progression to high school meant that another layer was added to the form of the spiral to hold the upper primary years, allowing the high school to face out to the ‘wide world’.

The growth of the school has co-incided with the extraordinary growth in regulatory processes that has occurred in the last two decades.  The planning, engineering and effluent consultants who have assisted in the documentation of the development of the campus are now called on to be part of the Social Habitat team in other projects.

Social Habitat is now engaged with the school to design a multi-purpose hall and large covered outdoor space funded by the third round of the BER.