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New Forest Study Centre: A Treehouse Retreat for Environmental Education
Nature lovers have always enjoyed being out in the woods and immersing themselves in the wild, and there’s a stunning center in the UK that can help to make that experience even more magical. Commissioned by the Countryside Education Trust (CET), New Forest Study Centre is a large, sustainable treehouse retreat in the countryside where people can go to learn about rural life and build a connection to nature; an experience that some one million children in the UK have never had. With two classrooms and a large outdoor space that has farm animals, gardens, and study areas, this treehouse project is a major catalyst for environmental awareness.
The treehouse was designed by 22-year-old Samantha Sherwood of Oxford Brookes University, who won a student design competition open to five South Eastern architecture schools. She worked closely with treehouse specialists Blue Forest Ltd to develop her plans into a workable solution, with additional advice from sustainable environmental consultancy XCO2.
The building features a biomass boiler, solar panels, rainwater collection and a glass roof. Construction materials were sourced within the region, where possible. A walkway suspended 16 feet from the ground enables students to move from one classroom to the other. Only the toilet block and facilities office are located on the ground. The new center replaces two dilapidated classrooms that were acquired second-hand, and is “a model of sustainable and environmental design, technology and energy conservation” serving the environmental education center and local community groups. This fantastic treehouse received top prize in the 2009 LABC (Local Authority Building Control) South East Building Excellence Awards, and continues to draw praise for sustainability and environmental excellence.
Visitors to the center can take part in countless eco-activities, and there are programs to suit any age group. The center’s goal is to educate people about nature and help them to reconnect with all things wild and wonderful, from forest walks to wilderness survival, archery, and crafts.
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