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Architecture Practice + Experimentation wins the Carlow Educate Together

01.02.14

The Hedge School is an informal learning space in nature where children are exposed to and learn from the elements. It is a place where children are educated in the basic principles of living such as growing food & plants, cooking in the open, ecosystems, climate, seasons, flora & fauna. In this way the natural elements become a stimulating part of the space and the experience; creating an engaging & adventurous learning environment; where children can hear the rain and feel the wind.

A circle of columns defines the space of the Hedge School in the green lawn. The shape of the pavilion reinforces the existing landscape plan and a path connects the pavilion to the other outdoor elements. The Hedge School is designed with the scale of a child in mind and can comfortably accommodate a class. The pavilion is entered by passing in between two columns, the space between which will gradually become narrower due to growing plants, resulting in secret passages through the hedge. Additional hinged doors allow for access of wheelchairs and wheelbarrows.

Within the pavilion a structure of platforms references the classic learning environment of the amphitheatre but also functions as an element that stimulates play. The platforms can be used as seating & stairs and the pupils are able to plant their vegetables in the integrated plant beds. The space as such will be unprogrammed but stimulate a variety of uses such as staging plays, outdoor (cooking) lessons,

The pavilion consists of a robust structure made out of sustainable and living materials; timber columns will support planters and wires that allow the vegetation to gradually cover the pavilion. The platforms, seating and plant beds in the pavilion are also constructed out of timber. Careful detailing will allow for a longevity of the Hedge School with minimal maintenance.

As the Hedge School is largely determined by vegetation and plants horticultural expertise is incorporated in the design process. This will also ensure that the amount of plant maintenance can be adjusted to suit specific holidays. Through the use of different plant varieties the pavilion will be growing all year round and the seasonal changes will create a continuously evolving appearance. Furthermore the path of the sun can be followed by shadows cast by the columns.

This NOT an IAF event and is delivered by Carlow Educate Together for more information please visit this website.