A Visual Proclamation of the Mercy story on Townsville’s Strand
A brand-new, multi-million dollar, state of the art performing arts, library and learning precinct has opened at St Patrick’s College, Townsville. The achitectural masterpiece honours the Mercy heritage on the site. The opening coincides with St Patrick’s being named as a school of excellence at the Australian Education Awards.
St Patrick’s College Townsville is ideally located on Townsville’s Strand beachfront. The College offers a wonderful mix of heritage and contemporary buildings that blend to create a beautiful learning environment. The College community is a community deeply rooted in a rich heritage, and sustained by a long tradition of mercy-in-action. In 2017 the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea transferred to the College the site previously occupied by the Mother House of the Townsville Congregation, the Chapel and Nursing Home.
This generous transfer enabled the College Board of Governance and Leadership Team to embark on an exciting and challenging adventure to create an architectural masterpiece that would both honour the Mercy history on the site – the founding site of the Sisters of Mercy in Townsville – and provide a state-of-the art-educational facility for the College staff and students. In addition the building would occupy a corner block on the Stand seafront, between the heritage Church of St Joseph’s and the heritage Convent, and thus needed to be worthy of its prime city location. m3 architecture in Brisbane was selected to create the grand design.
The East Precinct Auditorium, Hospitality Centre, Library and Centre for Performing Arts is indeed a spectacular, architectural masterpiece. The very physical features of the building speak “mercy” because mercy and compassion breathe life and spirit into all those who are part of this St Patrick’s College community. The most visible external feature is the sparkling white filigree veil which shrouds the building providing a sustainable approach to thermal regulation and protection from the harsh elements. When one takes a closer look, the most delicate of patterns dances across one’s eyes. The Mercy Rose, Mercy Cross and Shamrock are contained within this veil and pay homage to the founding Sisters of Mercy who brought the Order to Australia, and hence to Townsville. The lace pattern, the shamrock and the Mercy cross feature throughout the entire building and can be seen in the CrimSafe patterned doors, and the carpeting in the upper floors. The “cut-out” sections in the veil mirror, on every side, the rooflines of the original buildings on the site. This building is a visual masterpiece of the Mercy values, tradition, symbols and the legacy of Catherine McAuley.
As you enter the Auditorium your eyes are immediately drawn to the upper right hand corner which features the stained glass windows and the large Crucifix from the Sisters’ Chapel. The auditorium is a large flexible space with capacity to seat 800. A wide “aisle” separates the auditorium from the Industrial kitchen and hospitality classrooms on the ground floor. The 1st level contains a modern and flexible library and learning spaces providing our community with a peaceful haven for reading and learning along with stunning views across to Magnetic Island. Then we have the hero of this precinct in many ways, the performing arts precinct on the 2nd level providing instrumental music practice rooms, an acoustically-engineered recording studio, a drama theatre with a bespoke green room and a stunning dance studio.
If you enter from the inner College campus you wander down a beautifully constructed “avenue” which runs beside a lush grassy area. Along the “avenue” you can pause at the statue of Mary with the Divine Child which honours Mother Mary Agnes Goggin. Each of the upright structures once again displays the traditional Irish and Christian symbols. The wisteria vine which previously adorned the entrance to the Nursing Home has new life and enhances the site with its fragrance and blossoms.
Our ongoing hope and prayer is that God’s Spirit of Mercy and Compassion always be present within this precinct, and that it will be a place of nurture, a place of learning and a place of spiritual growth for all the young ladies who enter its portals.
Article written by Helen Mary Peters RSM, Chair of the Board of St Patrick’s College.
Australian Education Awards
In other exciting news for the College, St Patrick’s has been named as a school of excellence at the Australian Education Awards in the following categories –
- Best STEM Program
- Regional School of the Year
Find out more about St Patrick’s College – https://www.stpatscollege.qld.edu.au/