classroom… A new classroom for community education in Randwick

WHEN Randwick Council's sustainability unit's science education program for pre-and-primary schools became so popular that classes could not always be accommodated because of existing bookings of the community centre's main hall, it became clear to sustainability educator, Fiona Campbell, that the time was right to build a classroom on the village green.

Terry and steve were well placed to integrate the classroom and its surrounding landscaping with the permaculture interpretive garden…

Finding funding through a state government waste reduction grant, Council brought together council preferred suppliers, architect Terry Bail (Archology) and landscape architect Steve Batley (Sydney Organic Gardens) to work together on designing the new classroom and its surrounding landscaping that will include a bushfood educational trail.

Having worked together on the adjacent city park/council community education facility, the Permaculture Interpretive Garden, Terry and Steve were well placed to integtate the classroom and its surrounding landscaping with the Garden. As well as their professional qualifications, both have a Permaculture Design Certificate and so were familiar with integrative design.

the classroom came into use in may 2015 with a community education workshop on urban beekeeping…

Designed to accommodate both the schools science education program (that focuses on water, solar energy and, soon, biodiversity and food) as well as the community education program in organic home and community gardening, forest gardening, composting, permaculture design, community leadership and the Eco Heroes Club for 5 to 11 year olds, the classroom came into use in May 2015 with a community education workshop on urban beekeeping led by The Urban Beehive's Doug Purdie.

Seen from the Permaculture Interpretive Garden, the new classroom is lcoated on the edge of the open space known as the village green.
the classroom is a multifunctional design…

The classroom is a multifunction design. It was a design criteria that the classroom have large doors facing the village green so that it can be used as a performance space at the council's annual Ecoliving Fair and for other occasions.

While the sunlight streaming into the building during winter warms the cement floor, storing its heat energy in the floor's thermal mass and warming the interior, an awning yet to be built will exclude the hot summer sun.

Recycle, reuse, repurpose, reimagine…

As the classroom was part-financed by a state government waste reduction grant, recycled materials have been used in its construction. The posts in the photograph above are reused telegraph poles. The bricks used for paving and for the interior wall are recycled. The timber cladding was once hardwood floorboards in a warehouse.

Visible in the photo above are the timber louvres that can be opened — there is a set on both sides of the building — to create crossflow ventilation for summer cooling.

the building is energy and water efficient…
The building is energy and water efficient. Rainwater falling on the roof is stored in the large tank for use as garden irrigation. The trellises on the walls of the storerooms will support vines when the landscaping is installed.
the landscaping extends the BUILDING'S multifunctional design and adds value to its educational components…
The landscaping accompanying construction includes a sweeping curve of large sandstone blocks that define the village green and provide seating. They have inadvertently become a plaything for children. The landscaping extends the building's multifunctional design and, through the planned bushfood and biodiversity trails that are planned, adds value to its educational component.
THe curve of sandstone blocks continues on both sides of the classroom. The mulched areas are to be planted.
The classroom is situated centrepoint of the sandstone block curve. The shaded area below the awning on the southern side of the building is seen here.

The classroom is a new educational asset for Randwick, benefiting both school and adult learners.

The interior, with the repurposed telegraph structural poles, the thermal mass cement floor and the recycled brick walls. The ceiling is plywood. The lighting bright LEDs. The cement used in the brick walls is a type that allows for easy, eventual demolition of the wall and reuse of the bricks.

First uses…

A beekeeping workshop was the first use of the new classroom. The photo is of the second use for a class of the seven week Organic Garden course.

The tasty necessity of food…

Food adds to the positive experience of council's community courses in resilient living. The kitchenette is intended for preparing light refreshments rather than anything more ambitious.

Recycled hardwood floorboards were used to make cupboard doors in the kitchenette . A water efficient dishwasher and tap, an energy efficient refrigerator and an induction hotplate for warming food were chosen to comply with the classroom's no-waste design criteria.

Ceiling fans were installed in place of air conditioning for summer cooling. The closed louvres, which vent hot air in summer and allow crossflow ventilation, are seen closed above the doors.

Ready for first use…

The classroom, set up ready for first use. Opening the doors in summer will assist interior cooling. Large areas of glass provide plenty of natural light that is supplemented by LED ceiling lights.
View from the northern (sunward) end towards the kirchenette. The door (white) at the rear provides access to the southern side of the classroom where a large awning provides a shady space.
A model home and garden is visible to passers-by. The model is used to demonstrate energy and water efficient home design and renovation, including home fruit and vegetable production.
The classroom from its southern side . Cold, blustery winds blow from the south in winter and sometimes in summer, so less glass has been used on this side of the building that faces away from sunward. The exterior of one of the storerooms is seen on the right side of the classroom. Climbing plants will be installed to cover the trellis when landscaping is done..
Looking towards the Randwick Community Centre from the classroom, the Centre's wind turbine is seen. The turbine and the photovoltaic array on the building's roof are grid-connected and reduce the cost of energy for the Centre.
Morning sun shines through the awning on the building's northern, sunward side.
The classroom comfortably accommodates around 40 adults and more children attending the council's schools science education program.
a pleasant, cosy ambience is found inside the classroom…
The kitchenette and the energy efficient LED lighting.

Making images…

On completion, the builders wanted photographs of the classroom so they flew their UAV (Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle) or drone around it. The first attempt to fly through the open doors to get interior images worked. Not so fortunate the second attempt when the drone pilot flew the UAV into the wall above the door, fracturing a propeller.

Extending the value of council for Randwick citizens…

The positive interaction with citizens does more for council's public image than any public relAtions team…

The classroom extends the value of council for Randwick citizens. Construction of the building was stimulated by the demand for adult and children's learning and by their demand that local government take a more proactive approach to education people in resilient living.

The courses and workshops in food growing, early childhood education and community leadership grew from this demand and have pioneered a new, entrepreneurial direction for council, the positive interaction with citizens doing more for councils public image than any public relations team could accomplish.

(The classroom and courses) have been made possible through an ENTREPRENEURIAL mindset of council staff as civic entrepreneurs building assets of value to the community…

The classroom, Permaculture Interpretive Garden and courses in community capacity building and resiliency are Fiona's vision made concrete at Randwick Community Centre. This has been made possible through an entrepreneurial mindset that sees council staff as civic entrepreneurs building assets of value to the community and by a supportive management in council's sustainability unit.

Randwick's new classroom is now in use. Benefiting children attending the councils science education program for pre-and-primary schools as well as adult learners attending council's community education courses in resilient living, the classroom adds to the energy-and-water-efficiency-retrofitted community centre buildings, the Permaculture Interpretive Garden and the public reedbed toilet to create a learning hub for building community resiliency.

Story and photos by Russ Grayson

Created By
Russ Grayson
© Russ Grayson, June 2015 —

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