NZ’s first Green School build is underway

Construction of the world’s second Green School has begun in Oakura, Taranaki, with the campus set to reflect New Zealand’s unique links to its landscape and culture.

Phase one of the campus design is being brought to life by Taranaki’s BOON Team Architects, who has worked closely with Green School, global designers and Clelands Construction to ensure the design functions sustainably, while meeting New Zealand building codes and practices.

The first stage of the campus will include three learning pods, a two-storey building that will act as a multi-purpose resource centre, as well as a services building located at the school’s entrance.

A driveway, paths and parking areas made from compacted recycled concrete have also been laid, while more than 15,000 native plants have been put in the ground, as part of the school’s reforestation project.

BOON director Glenn Brebner says the design of the learning pods is based around sustainable function, giving children a safe and comfortable environment within nature, to focus and learn.

“This project has certainly asked that we rethink the way we typically put buildings together.

“Curved shapes are predominant in the architecture to create an atmosphere that supports alternative thinking. These soft forms require rethinking traditional systems, processes and product solutions – through digital software, CNC cutting and off-site manufacturing.”

Consideration has been given to the longevity of the building and how it will function sustainably in Taranaki’s varied west coast weather, he says.

While making the most of natural light and sun orientation, the pods will be equipped with high level insulation and vapour barriers to keep them at a constant temperature and minimise the need for artificial heating.

Environmentally certified timber will be used for much of the building, with priority given to locally sourced product.

Green School New Zealand education project manager Chris Sullivan says approaching the build in phases will coincide with a student intake that will evolve to approximately 100 students by July 2020.

“We plan to start with a slightly smaller roll in term one, then increase it in term two, until we have our full capacity for 2020 when term three starts in July. Phase two of the build will start as soon as phase one is finished, meaning we will have more learning pods complete for 2021.

“Staging the process allows us to provide the best, most sustainable environment for everyone as we all look to begin our Green School journey.”

Sullivan says the school structures will continue to evolve, with elements of the designs released earlier this year, to be incorporated as the school roll grows.

Green School co-founders Michael and Rachel Perrett say it is incredibly exciting to be at the point where the physical school is beginning to take shape.

“It has taken a huge amount foresight and effort from a great deal of innovative, hard-working and ambitious people to get to this stage. We are extremely grateful to everyone who has helped us along the way and look forward to sharing the progress as we bring this wonderful project to life.”

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