Brief of 2063 Classroom
So I have been assigned the task to design a brief of a 2063 classroom. I have taken into account the removal of asbestos from prefab classrooms of the 1960’s. The other element is the inclusion of vegetable gardens and chickens as part of the brief.
Let’s explore these elements first:
Pre Fab and Asbestos
It’s 2063 and the last of the 1960’s prefab classrooms are being decommissioned. That means it took 100 years to do this. With what we know of asbestos related diseases I strongly question whether we will have to wait that long.
The years 2017- 2020 are predicted to be the years where asbestos related diseases are expected to peak because of the average 20-50 year life span after contact.
I come from Wollongong, 1 hr south of Sydney, which is an area expected to have one of the highest rates of asbestos related deaths because of the coal mines, heavy industry such as Port Kembla Steelworks where asbestos was used as lagging for furnaces, the ports, the high numbers of housing commissioned homes (fibro based) and housing construction per capita.
The “quiet” associated with asbestos figures is because of the “blow out” that Governments are expecting in the next few years. Doctors are now encouraged to ask the question of asbestos contact to every new patient to determine future illnesses.
My father died from pleural mesothelioma better known as “Bernie Banton’s disease”. It is a cancer caused by working with asbestos related products and an asbestos based environment. It is a cruel, aggressive and untreatable cancer. Asbestos does not belong in our communities in 2013 let alone 2063.
Yet only two days ago I had to confront “cowboy tradesmen” about their approach to demolishing an area in a school environment even though work practises tell us all the ways to rid our schools and homes of it ‘safely”.
Legislation will talk about “safe” levels per cubic metre, there is no “safe” levels. This is why you will see the word “safe” in quotation marks.
So I ponder the time of 2063 being rid of the pre fab. Will it take that long to get rid of the infiltration of asbestos in our lives? I hope not! And until people are more informed and aware of its effect on humans, then the “stuff” will continue to destroy families, steal fathers who simply went to work; wives who simply washed clothes and children who simply hugged their father when he got home.
Vegies and Chooks
Jamie Oliver, the English born food enthusiast, knew more than most about the lack of knowledge in our children as to where food comes from. This youtube video included is alarming.The video is called “Potatoes vs Tomatoes”.
Now obviously, this level of knowledge will vary in different neighbourhoods especially those with low socioeconomic demographics but the reality is that we live in a country where food is accessible and the choice of food types is numerous. Yet for many children the place of food growth and distribution is their local supermarket such as Woolies or Coles.
There is also the element of natural resource depletion on the planet and the effect it will have on the transportation of food from far distant farms to the supermarkets and then to our homes. This is not going to be available to us as we now know it because of the depletion in world oil supplies. Food will become too costly to transport. People are going to need to have connections locally to food sources as a matter of necessity.
Our parents knew all about local “sustainability”, our grandparents invented it.
I once heard a very real quote:
Today we call it sustainable living,
our parents called it gardening.
Having vegie patches and chickens in classrooms of the present and future will be as necessary as having anatomy classes in medical college.
Children will need to know soil conditions, from seed to plant growth knowledge, effects of sunlight, seasonal gardening and so on.
Chooks will become a necessary food source. Eggs and chicken are a food necessity which are easy to produce and maintain.
This is not about having “lovely” classrooms. These classrooms are going to be life skills that have missed a generation because of the technological revolution. We are part of a time frame that has easy access to much; many have high paying double income families with large homes with little garden and maintenance patches, fast food and restaurant outlets…chickens and vegies do not come into the equation for many in an increasingly fast paced first world environment.
With the introduction of chooks and vegie patches in classrooms, there is also the aspect of local Communities of Practise to engage support and knowledge building. Where the “expert” and the “learners” are introduced, and the “learners to the learners” are introduced and together embark on a continuing growth journey.
For many in poorer countries, the children are the vegie keepers. The children help take care of the livestock as a food source. In Australia, they have been re-introduced, in “urban” areas. This is a great thing! We cannot afford to miss another generation with this sort of knowledge.
My Classroom Brief
In the design brief of the classroom I wasn’t so much knowledge with the layout of the classroom as I was with the inclusion of these aspects of chooks and vegie patches. Layout is not my strong architectural point as is shown below. Is it open planned, large verandah like doors opening onto a playground/ backyard?
I more reflected on aspects of plant growth, needs and requirements of keeping chickens. These are both living and breathing natural aspects of the classroom. The reason to keep them can vary from increasing student academic achievements to raising environmental knowledge levels.
I see classrooms where midday shade cloths will need to be placed over young seedlings to stop them from getting heat burn and removed at other times of the day; or learning ways to bring lady bugs and other insects vital for an natural pest control. Where do the bees come into it for pollination? (This would be a problem with higher levels of allergies to insect and bee stings prevalent in Australia). There is also the introduction of the varroa mite beetle which is putting our food source under risk because of its catastrophic effect on bee colonies. This is what classrooms should be informing our students about.
Ways to reproduce chickens and egg laying habits would be a curriculum subject. Personal research projects of comparing plant responses could engineer new knowledge in the next generation.
Within this classroom will be the opportunity to explore seasonal foods and how they affect household budgets when purchased and eaten in season.
The list of knowledge growth is vast. There is a need for this inclusion to our classrooms of the future. I would argue strongly that they are necessary in our classrooms now so that when society is faced with environmental impacts, such as world oil supply depletion, then this generation is ready to help people survive sustainably.
Architectural Brief Design
Ok, so I fessed up that I am no architect and SKETCHUP software proved that once and for all. I had a real image in my head and my “sketch masterpiece” decided it had its own image for me.
I guess the idea was to have open doors straight onto gardens and perhaps garden beds on flat light coloured rooftops (light rooftops are better for insulation).
There is a play area. Chooks close enough to tend and far enough for winter months when moisture in the chook yard results in seasonal smells.
Light filled classrooms enable seasonal light to come in from every direction.
I would like some shelter icons but the more buttons I pressed the more directions my image went. I did watch the SKETCHUP tutorial but be prepared for two versions ie the MAC and the WINDOWS. They use the WINDOWS version in the tutorial so look up the MAC version if you are using that computer.
I guess if I get to the classroom design stage in my career I will hire someone to do…probably a tech savvy student in my class!!
Here is my attempt at architectural design….