Great design can bring kids closer to nature without hurting the bank. Just ask AP+E, an architecture studio that designed Hedge School, a competition-winning pavilion used as an outdoor classroom for a primary school in Carlow, Ireland. Made of natural and sustainable materials, this low-cost timber amphitheater creates a playful and sensory environment surrounded by nature.
Set in a green lawn, the Hedge School is defined by a circle of plywood columns of varying heights that support a staggered row of wooden planters. A steel wire mesh for growing vines covers the space between the pavilion floor and planter. The interior of the pavilion, which was designed with the scale of a child in mind, features a gravel floor and plywood platforms that double and steps and seating. The unnprogrammed space is large enough to accommodate a class can be used for a variety of purposes including performance, cooking lessons, and play.
AP+E also created a year-round planting design to give the Hedge School a continuously evolving appearance with minimal maintenance. The pavilion’s raised plant beds allow students to grow their own food and watch the plants develop over the seasons. “Through planting, growing, studying and finally eating their plants the children are not only taught basic skills but more importantly also learn how their actions directly affect their surroundings,” write the architects. Over time, the entire pavilion will be cloaked in a veil of greenery.
“The Hedge School is an informal learning space in nature where children are exposed to and learn from the elements,” write the architects. “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.”
Images via AP+E