do other rustic features such as external features, clad these buildings certainly helps with this, as range of beautiful timbers that can be used to immediately becoming part of the school. The
like rustic meadow roofs and decked, accessible outside areas. Teachers value these buildings for their ability to blend the indoors and outdoors.
If someone said ‘modular classroom’, for many Fully bespoke buildings
buildings. But modern timber modular classrooms those uninspiring, cut-and-paste prefabricated people the first thing that springs to mind are
contemporary learning environments that harness are much, much more—they’re cutting-edge,
modern construction methods and technologies, totally bespoke and unique to each school’s needs.
Modular timber construction puts the end
lighting, heat pumps and meadow roofs. The use design features including sliding doors, smart contain interior and exterior adaptations and user’s experience at the forefront. They can
of canvas awnings can allow for indoor/outdoor use whatever the weather, while interior rooms
exam rooms, lectures, teamwork spaces, and can purposes and activities. They can be used for can be specially designed to fulfil multiple
transform multiple times throughout the day depending on need.
Timber’s booming popularity also comes from its design flexibility, and ability to acquiesce to any number of architectural visions. Testament to this is the popularity of timber buildings amongst
Educational Needs (SEN); popular solutions there schools that cater for pupils with Special
and low-level door and cupboard handles, as well include well-placed handrails, accessible storage
The scale, timeframe or style of an architectural as hygiene facilities.
construction works for a small home gym, a large design is not a hindrance with timber. Timber
classroom block or an 18-floor tower (see Brock
British Columbia, as an example); there are even Commons residence hall at the University of
design blueprints for a timber high-rise building currently in preparation.
High-tech timberwith performance benefits Timber classrooms are comfortable, year-round, although it may be tempting to assume the contrary (after all, surely a standalone timber building will be exposed to the cold?). In fact, wood insulates fifteen times better than masonry, and 400 times better than steel. Timber has many other performance benefits over traditional building materials.
As well as being a superb natural insulator, timber is a hygroscopic material, which means it can breathe. As a material, timber has air pockets which allow it to exchange moisture with the surrounding air, fighting against humidity and boosting air quality. Users are kept cool in summer, but warmer in winter—keeping heating and cooling use is kept to a minimum. Technological innovations can supplement timber’s already-high natural thermal
performance. Air source heat pumps can be installed, for example—these take heat from the outside to power radiators. Timber classroom blocks can also be draught proofed and central heated, as well as fitted with insulation; because this is contained within the structure of the timber cavity, the walls of a timber frame building can
achieve the same level of insulation as concrete or stone, whilst being much thinner (thereby also saving on vital building space).
Humans feel betterwith timber
Yes, that might sound a little contrived, but there is solid evidence out there proving that timber benefits us on a physiological level.
The environment that surrounds us can have a tremendous, ‘hidden’ effect on our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Timber classrooms adhere to the principles of ‘biophilic design’; that is, design that caters to humans’ innate desire to be surrounded by nature. Architects practicing biophilic design create buildings that convey physiological benefits to users by making use of natural surfaces such as wood.
Biophilic design benefits teachers and pupils by reducing blood pres improving behaviou
r and school performance— sure and stress levels,
even attendance. This is according to several landmark studies, SchoolWithout Stress and Wood and Human Health. According to another, timber buildings can result in ‘improved mental engagement, alertness, concentration,
physiological and psychological responsiveness’. Also, research by Harvard University shows that ‘green buildings’ can improve cognitive function by between 61%and 101%—good news for
In one experimen learning.
t, two groups of university
students were studied in a ‘wood treatment room’ and a ‘non-wood control room’. They were asked to conduct a stressful audio-based maths test; those in the wood room demonstrated less stress activation. ‘Wood, therefore, is one way to create a healthier built environment’, according to the authors of the study, who also noted that timber can ‘improve, attention, focus, creativity and reduce pain perception’.
Minimising artificial light is also a good ‘biophilic’ guiding principle for any learning environment. Because of their standalone nature, timber modular buildings can be carefully designed to maximise the amount of natural sunlight. Strategic window placement and light sensor technology are popular design solutions; smart lighting dims according to the level of natural sunlight within the building, subsequently conserving electricity - an eco-friendly, money- saving bonus.
July/ y/August 2019 www.education
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