This is Green School, New Zealand which is located on an old dairy farm. In this school the approach is in favour of a holistic learning programme, where the emphasis is less on what is being taught and more on how, and the environment is placed at the centre of learning. It’s not just the content or the method of teaching but also the school building itself is unique and is unlike any other school building. Do you know why this school building is designed like this?
Though the buildings aren’t where most of the learning takes place in this school, the structure conveys the intent of the school founders with a dart like accuracy. The students are often taught through projects rather than clearly delineated subjects.
When architect, Boon Ltd, was finalising the design for the school he had to satisfy not only the school’s objectives but also had to ensure that the proposed design would meet requirements of government authorities with consideration of earthquake restriction and accessibility rules as well as wind loads at the base of the mountain in an exposed location. Boon came out with a design that is universal, accessible and inclusive; it connects the learning pods with the ground, but with the lightest of touches to the earth. It provides accessible entry while also complying with NZ codes and weather tightness requirements.
Boon’s interpretation of sustainability for the Green School NZ campus is primarily to do with building performance. Each design decision was made with acute respect to environmental qualities that matched the school’s values.
Consideration has been given to longevity of the building and how it will function sustainably in the varied west coast weather environment. The design utilizes passive measures, making the most of cross ventilation, natural light and sun orientation. Alongside this the learning POD’s are equipped with high level insulation, vapor barriers and an under floor heating system to keep wakas at constant temperature. This minimises the need for artificial heating and makes use of materials that are durable and appropriate to the environment. It’s not just about using the most organic material, but considering locale of material production and transportation of that material, plus what happens to it at the end of life.
Keeping the Green School’s core principle of sustainability at the center of not just curriculum but also campus planning, the buildings have been built from locally sourced timber with just a 6% waste result, a significant feat in itself. As part of a major restoration project, more than 20,000 native trees have been planted on the site over the past year. The campus features a tropical house where students will learn to grow and nurture plants, and two nurseries which are set to turn over more than 15,000 plants per year, including fruit and vegetable trees which will allow students and visitors to pick fresh produce on-campus.