Curved COLA


Curved COLA for St Catherine of Siena Primary School, Geelong


  • Project value: $450,000
  • Client: Plan Group
  • Project Dimensions: 39m long x 36m wide
  • Time to completion: 20 weeks
  • Completion date: Late 2021
  • Location: Geelong, VIC


Plan Group is an experienced Victorian construction management firm with decades of experience in commercial, education, healthcare and retail projects.

With extensive experience in delivering high-end educational institutions, Plan Group was successful in securing a contract to build Stage 1 of a new Geelong primary school designed by Clarke Hopkins Clarke architects.


Plan Group had been engaged by The Roman Catholic Trusts Corporation to deliver this project for St Catherine of Siena Catholic Primary School, encompassing a two-storey 1300m2 administration and learning building and large covered outdoor learning area (COLA). Both structures needed to be built concurrently before the 2022 school year commenced, so the project timeline left little room for error.

The architect’s vision for this project centred on creating a connection between indoor and outdoor learning spaces. Outdoor learning settings were prioritised, encouraging active and passive play and exploration, and key to this was a large covered outdoor learning area (COLA).

Plan Group approached Steelcorp to deliver the 1500m2 curved COLA, entrusting this part of the project to us so their team could focus on the construction of the main building.

COLA Geelong


The scope for this project included the design and engineering of a 1500m2 curved COLA to provide an undercover learning and play area for the students. Steelcorp was tasked with fabricating all included steel in our Wangaratta factory, providing prompt delivery to the site and ensuring our team installed the concrete footings and erected the structure with care and precision.

Constructed over a hard court playing surface, the COLA measured 39m long x 36m wide with a 60m radius roof pitch that offered an attractive curved finish. Clad in Surfmist COLORBOND®, the roof featured Wonderglass skylights in each of the five bays for additional light penetration.

Supported by a hot-dip galvanised web truss and universal beams for long term strength and corrosion resistance, the structure includes 900mm overhanging eaves on all sides for additional weather protection.

As part of our scope of works, Steelcorp provided overall management of the project, including providing drawings and elevations for Building Permit approvals, and a high-quality engineering design prepared to Australian Standards.


Like any project, the construction of the COLA wasn’t without its challenges. Well before the complex curved roof could be lifted into place, the building team had to deal with rocky ground and elevation differences.

When digging the footings, the concreting team came across over 6 cubic metres of rock over the 12 holes. To overcome this, the team switched to a tougher 900mm diameter core drill which cut right through the rock and soil. Once the footings were complete, the columns were erected with each manufactured to a slightly different length to counter the 570mm fall across the site.

The striking curved truss design was the biggest challenge for this project, presenting considerably more complex fabrication requirements compared to a common gable truss, due to the variety of different angles and points of measurement.

As a solution, we fabricated a jig out of the initial truss which acted as a ‘mould’ for the rest of the trusses. Once each portal was fabricated, we then bolted them together on the ground to ensure a smooth erection process on site.

Once the truss was securely in place, the roof needed to be craned into place safely. To do this, our team assembled the two individual sections of roof framing together at ground level, with each section made up of three portal frames bolted together.

Completing the build was the installation of standard half-round gutters with downpipes at each column, plumbed into the school’s stormwater drainage system.

COLA Geelong


The new 1500m2 COLA was delivered concurrently with the rest of the project over a 20-week timeline, with Plan Group noting that Steelcorp’s responsive and professional approach helped the entire process run smoothly.

“From the beginning, working with Steelcorp was easy,” says Jack Chazan, Contract Administrator for Plan Group.

“We enlisted their service to construct a covered outdoor learning centre that housed two full-sized multi-functional basketball courts. The Steelcorp team was responsive, met deadlines and were organised. They worked with us to develop design solutions for our client including the incorporation of skylights over the structure.”

“We will be looking to team up with Steelcorp again on future projects,” adds Jack.

The project officially opened on 22nd November 2021 as the school received a blessing from the Archbishop in front of the school community.


  • Plan Group Building partners: Mark Dower – Project Manager, James Dean – Construction Manager, Jack Chazan – Contracts Administrator and Dallas Harvey – Site manager
  • Engineering consultant: Rosangela Rodriguez at MW Engineering
  • Architect: Jim Wilmot at Clarke Hopkins Clarke Architects
  • Builders & Contractors: Adam at Adz Cranes, Gary Mansfield at GM Renos, Tony Oliveri at Oliveri Concreting


COLA Geelong

Talk to us today