Prince Charles has been invited to open the New Forest Study Centre’s new educational treehouse, a sustainable building that places city kids right in the middle of nature. The Countryside Education Trust (CET) has commissioned two classrooms-on-stilts to be built, enabling 10,000 children a year 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 an eco-minded design and purpose, the treehouse project will be a 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’s been working closely with Novoe Ltd and treehouse specialists Blue Forest Ltd to develop her plans into a workable solution, with additional advice from sustainable environmental consultancy XCO2.
Samantha’s design features a biomass boiler, solar panels, rainwater collection and a glass roof. Construction materials will be sourced within the region, where possible. A walkway suspended 16 feet from the ground will enable students to move from one classroom to the other. Only the toilet block and facilities office will be located on the ground.
The new center replaces two dilapidated classrooms that the centre acquired second-hand. It will be “a model of sustainable and environmental design, technology and energy conservation” serving the environmental education center and local community groups. Construction is underway and, if the Prince accepts, the center will open when the treehouse is completed in Fall 2008.