Creating Sustainable School Buildings Without Compromising Design
Sustainability in education building projects is largely about function, but what does it mean for form? Does a building that consumes minimal energy for heating, lighting and ventilation inevitably have to compromise when it comes to looking beautiful or making a statement?
Education buildings are primarily places of learning. They are also an expression of what the institution means to staff, students and the wider community. Good design matters. It helps to set the agenda for how people feel about their school, college or university and helps to engender a sense of pride and belonging.
The most sustainable education building in the world wouldn’t be a successful project if it lost sight of the importance of good design, visual impact and a sense of place.
The good news is that far from being incompatible, sustainability and statement-making architecture are a perfect match. Sustainable construction relies heavily on advanced methods, which are fundamentally design-led processes. Designers and manufacturers can collaborate to find optimal ways to replicate the design vision in practice.
Award-Winning Design and Sustainability
That’s all great in theory, but what about the practice? The new School of Architecture and learning resource centre completed by Osborne for the University of Greenwich achieved BREEAM Excellence certification. It also earned a string of accolades for its design, including the RIBA National Award and RIBA London Award. It was also a Stirling Prize finalist and made the shortlist for the BCIA 2015 Building Project of the Year (£10 m to £50m).
Sustainability features include tiered flat roofs that form live teaching spaces and the first development in the world to house an aquaponics bio-reactor. There are 14 individual roof gardens including an apiary, English garden habitat, and wildlife pond with time lapse photography capability.
The facility is available for student and community use 24 hours a day. It’s a statement of advanced construction and is in keeping with the unique location in the Greenwich Maritime UNESCO World Heritage site.
Sustainability in practice can still make a bold statement in education building programmes.