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Sauntering Structures

Students reap the benefits of fresh air and innovative design in these modern pod classrooms.

05/2010

By Alanna Malone

Natural landscaping protects the pods from wind, while stilts ensure low impact on the site. Natural landscaping protects the pods from wind, while stilts ensure low impact on the site.
Photo © Sean Conboy
Natural landscaping protects the pods from wind, while stilts ensure low impact on the site.
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Much of today’s focus on prefabricated design is for residential projects, including the Make it Right initiative in New Orleans. UK-based architect Robert Gaukroger, however, has devoted his energy to a replicable, prefab office/classroom model. Completed late last year, the first Forest Classroom Pods reside on the Elleray Preparatory School campus in Lake District National Park, Windermere, UK.

Constructed from ribbed timber frames and clad in English chestnut shingles, the three pods are organized in a triangular formation and connected by a deck which also serves as an outdoor classroom, and is comprised of timber and recycled milk jugs.

Elevated on Douglas fir stilts to minimize the environmental impact, the pods seem to come alive much to students’ delight and resemble creeping creatures from afar. Operable windows allow for passive ventilation with automated reflective blinds controlling solar gain. Solar panels (for lighting) and vacuum tube solar water heaters decrease the need for fossil fuels and a tank collects water for reuse in the gardens. Sheep’s wool provides a more natural insulation than chemical options.

The zoomorphic structures serve as a fun learning space for the students, while also providing them with an important connection to the natural environment.

KEY PARAMETERS
LOCATION: Lake District National Park, Windermere, UK
DESIGNERS: Robert Gaukroger, Dan Kealty,
Ryan Hartley
OWNER: Elleray Preparatory School
FLOOR AREA: 2000 ft2
PROGRAM: 3 classroom pods
MANUFACTURER: Cawley Timberwork
DECKING SUPPLIER: Ecodek

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This article appeared in the May 2010 print issue of GreenSource Magazine.

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