Architectural firm gives a lesson in green design at Intaka Island classroom
THE NEW educational facility at Intaka Island Visitors Centre in Century City was officially opened last month.
The brief for dhk architects was to design a 50m living energy classroom for visiting school groups. The classroom needed to demonstrate sustainability in the built environment and how man and his structures can co-exist within a sustainable context of responsible environmental practices.
“The aim is for the building itself to become an educational tool,” said Peter Stokes, a director at dhk architects.
“Some of the sustainable architectural considerations in the design include the building orientation, with south-facing glazing for softer light and reduced solar heat gain. The northern edge is solid, with a green wall exterior.”
Polystyrene blocks were used in the construction of the walls and the flat concrete roof. For the external walls, the polystyrene blocks were stacked in a staggered and interlocking pattern, similar to Lego blocks.
The hollow blocks then act as permanent shuttering to the reinforced concrete infill, while providing the necessary insulation.
For the roof, the polystyrene blocks work in the same manner as a conventional concrete rib-and-block system, providing permanent shuttering to the cast concrete roof, as well as insulation.
The green wall is a vertical garden that softens the northfacing wall and will be irri- gated using grey water.
Natural ventilation is encouraged through low- level inlets and high-level outlets on opposite sides of the classroom. Additional electricity is generated from the roofmounted photo voltaic panels that are used to power the learning centre. Rainwater run-off from the building is collected and re-used or fed back into the Intaka wetland waterways.
“This small pro-bono project provided an opportunity for dhk to help Intaka Island realise this much-needed classroom facility, and highlight the range of environmental principles dhk seek to employ where possible across a number of our larger commercial projects,” said Stokes.
HIGH AIMS: Peter Stokes next to the roof-mounted photo voltaic panels that are used to power the new educational facility at Intaka Island Visitors Centre in Century City.