I would envisage a school constructed entirely of recycled and renewable materials. The main construction materials would be mud-brick, glass bottles and bamboo.
The frames of construction and parts that would normally be wooden would be entirely of bamboo with minimal use of steel reinforcement where required. Mud-brick and glass bottles would be used for wall construction using passive environmental heating and cooling. Recycled glass bottles filled with water make an excellent heat reservoir for passive winter heating, whilst mud- brick has the same benefits. The bottles allow for passive solar lighting as well. Careful architectural placement of eaves in the design also allows passive environmental control by allowing direct sunlight in during winter and blocking this during summer by making use of seasonal planetary tilt. Doorways would be mainly double-glazed glass wall panels. Again to maximise passive environmental heating and cooling as well as using environmental lighting.
The roof would be thatch construction from alang-alang grass, only requiring repair and replacement every ten years on average. Clear panels could be incorporated to allow natural lighting. Buildings could also be powered using solar panels placed strategically on the roof to maximise solar radiation capture for running electronic devices and lighting where required.
The learning space within would be mostly open plan with large learning areas to accommodate team-teaching spaces. Student seating would vary around the space, but would allow for varied and flexible learning by students. Walls would be utilised as display areas as well as displays hung from the ceiling space. Displays would be relevant and meaningful, with attention to form and colour to maximise impact and learning. Students will be involved in the creation and maintenance of display areas. It’s important that there is access to power outlets for every device being used in the classroom. Since this could place a significant drain on power reserves on low solar radiation days, the school should also have additional means of generation, mini-hydro as well as methane generators may be a solution, as well as being connected to the power grid for extreme low solar time periods.
The school garden should be a place of organic growth, with garden beds to teach students to become organically independent growers of vegetables in the Australian climate. Many of the food crops they grew in their home countries could also be grown and this garden could be used as a place to build cross-cultural bridges through sharing techniques, plants and even food preparation techniques.
It’s an incomplete idea, with further research required to be able to make it happen. I believe in sustainable construction using sustainable materials and passive environmental techniques to reduce the carbon footprint of humanity.