The Internationally renowned St George Cathedral choir has found itself a new home. A stunning two-story white precast concrete structure, delicately located in a confined space in between four existing buildings, three of which are heritage listed. This proud building at St George’s Cathedral in Perth also enjoys a special title: Cadogan Song School. 

Taking up only a tiny area of 200 square meters, this choir school has much more value than it shows. Located in between 4 historically renowned buildings, not only does it create a visual balance between the ancient and the modern, but also contributes to the connection of the entire district. A series of sculptural vaults and a uniquely shaped ‘tuning fork’ spire symbolize contemporary religious architecture both in scale and in form. Its willow-shaped windows serve as a transitional point of view, through which overflows a harmonious beauty of the old and the new. 

song school

Reaching a Balanced Relation With Surroundings

White concrete vaults are chosen to moderate two visual extremes, Deanery and Ascalon, both on material level and colour selection, to allow the architectural language of this dense site to continue. Sitting on the foundations of the Cathedral and Burt Memorial Hall, the main functions of this choir school lies underground for site preservation purposes. Separating itself from the Burt Memorial Hall through a protruding entrance located in the lower ground of the plaza, the project introduces natural lights, and takes into account the accessibility of the building as well as the renewal and addition of valuable existing spaces.

The Difficulty of Producing and Installing Specially Shaped Precast Elements 

To transform the architectural vision into reality required various high quality white curved and arched prefabricated concretes. Finding a manufacturer capable of meeting the high requirements was a real challenge. Adelaide Company SA Precast happens to be one of the few. 

Located in between existing buildings, posed a significant challenge for assembling prefabricated concrete elements, as the elements needed to be lifted 60 meters from the truck before reaching the final position.

Despite its construction difficulty, the elegant white precast concrete façade made from Aalborg White® cement, the colonnade formed by white concrete vaulted arches supported with U-shaped columns, and each and every unique design of the Cadogan Song School was inspired by Cathedral lancet windows and more. 

“in order to achieve the curved shape, a 65mm thickness and a 10mm reinforcement was added”, According to the Claude Pincin, President of SA Precast when interviewed by OpusC Magazine, “for towers to be erected and fixed before stripping and levelling, a semi-circular base was required, and during the assembly planning, purpose-designed and manufactured lifting frames were used for the arch units and towers allowing for building components to hang vertically ”.

song school

The project achieved world-class standards in architectural design, material usage, constructions and heritage conservation. As a result, the project has received a series of national awards.

The Cadogan Song School Has Been Awarded 

2017 WA State Award of Excellence (Concrete Institute of Australia)
2017 National Award of Excellence (Concrete Institute of Australia)
2017 Kevin Cavanagh Trophy for Excellence in Concrete, the highest award that can be awarded to a concrete project in Australia and is only awarded every two years (Concrete Institute of Australia)
2018 Margaret Pitt Morison Award for Heritage (Australian Institute of Architects, WA)
2018 The Julius Elischer Award for Interior Architecture (Australian Institute of Architects, WA)
2018 Public Architecture Award (Australian Institute of Architects, WA)
2018 Commendation in the Mondoluche Lighting award category (Australian Institute of Architects, WA)
2018 Best Public Use Building ($1,500,000 – $5,000,000) award (Master Builders Association)
2018 National Award for Heritage (National Architecture Awards) 

Project Information:


Location: Perth, Australia

AALBORG WHITE® cement Application: Precast concrete in walls, columns and beams, spires and arches

Precaster: SA Precast

Architects: Palassis Architects

Erection Engineer: J Woodside Consulting

Project cost:  $4.8 million

Area:200 m2

song school
song school
song school
song school
song school