Loreto Agricultural Technologies Centre

Osborn Orchards, the agricultural technologies centre at independent girl’s school Loreto Normanhurst, is a purpose-built environment for agricultural learning in support of the school’s focus on STEM education.

“The centre offers invaluable opportunities for hands-on learning and practical application of agricultural principles that instils confidence, fosters curiosity and motivates our learners to become the leaders of tomorrow's STEM industries."

—Simone Bryant, Loreto Normanhurst Head of Science

Completion of Osborn Orchards in 2023 was a milestone in the Loreto’s 30-year master plan, exemplifying its vision for holistic education and the pursuit of excellence in STEM.  Created through a co-design process in collaboration with teachers and a prefabricated shed manufacturer, the agricultural technologies centre is a small-budget project with big heart.   

Though architecturally reflecting the barn vernacular, the building incorporates a purpose-designed teaching lab, seedling and raised growing beds, hydroponics area under a translucent roof, and for natural composting… a chicken coop.  

Inside, fixed joinery and fittings along the lab perimeters and overhead suspended power outlets allow for flexible class layouts. The Centre prioritizes environmental consciousness, featuring amenities such as a rainwater tank for irrigation, vegetable beds, and chicken sheds, fostering hands-on learning in horticulture and animal husbandry. As a holistic hub, the Agricultural Technologies Centre exemplifies innovation, sustainability, and immersive education. 

These amenities are designed to support the natural environment and promote sustainable practices though an immersive student experience and a range of environmental design features including rainwater harvesting and solar power aligning strongly with Loreto’s commitment to the future. 

“Our girls are not just studying science – they’re immersed in it. Through deep learning experiences from our local classrooms to global platforms, we create opportunities for our girls to showcase their abilities and innovations,” says Simone Bryant, Loreto Normanhurst Head of Science. 

Enquiry-based design features include: 

  • Protected COLA perfect for outdoor teaching and hydroponics growth. 
  • Interiors with fixed perimeter joinery to enable experimentation, propagation and cooking while maintaining flexibility for teaching layouts. 
  • Dark store area for mushroom cultivation. 
  • Raised planter beds and chicken coop. 
  • Trellis incorporated into the COLA design to support vine growth. 

In 2024, the centre was joint winner at the Learning Environments Australasia Design (LEAD) Awards in the Small Projects Under $2m category.

The innovation is proven to drive thinking that is resourceful, and adaptive. This agricultural learning area is not just a product of economic efficiency. Through the shed, efficiency is used to extract the best learning outcome out of a strict brief and budget. It seems many green fingers would feel right at home here.

—2024 LEAD Awards jury

Project Facts


Dharug Country, Normanhurst NSW


Loreto Normanhurst


Architecture, Interior Design






Michael Anderson


2024, LEAD Awards, Small Project Under $2m, Winner

Key Contacts

Dua Green
Director View profile