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Guide to Tocal

CB Alexander Campus of Tocal College

Architects Phillip Cox and Ian McKay were involved in the design of the College buildings from the time that the Presbyterian Church first applied to use the bequest. They were also present at the first meeting of the College Council when the site of the College was chosen. The contract to build the College was awarded to Gardiner Constructions Pty Ltd of Newcastle.

The campus is designed to sit within the surrounding landscape. The overall plan of the College is based, like many institutions, on a grand quadrangle though one side has been eliminated to provide a visual link to the Homestead. Thus the campus is ‘u’ shaped facing out towards the Homestead, with a series of courtyards rather than one main courtyard. The student area is on one side, with teaching and administration on the other.

original buildings 1965

The 'U' shaped design can be clearly seen in the above photo of the original campus buildings in 1965.

The architect’s vision of the campus was that the buildings were to be seen rising from the natural resources of the Hunter valley, using local materials and local tradesmen. The buildings were to mature and merge with the landscape. The growth of lichen and moss enhances the buildings and demonstrates that they are part of the environment in which they were constructed.

To reinforce this the landscape of the campus was developed to reflect the local environment. All plants are native Australian species and lawns are mowed and maintained, but not watered, so that they reflect the changing Australian seasons. The landscape plan was developed over a number of years and completed in 1998.

In 1965 the campus was awarded the Sir John Sulman Architectural Prize and the Blacket Award for buildings of outstanding architectural merit. Further developments are overseen by architect Eric Martin, a past director of Phillip Cox’s company, to maintain the integrity of the College design.

photo of campus

Above: the campus sitting within the surrounding Tocal landscape.