GRID Education by Carter Williamson Architects
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“Burwood Girls High School runs a ‘Sustainable House’ subject as part of their Science Technology Engineering & Maths (STEM) programs. Carter Williamson were involved in the program by tutoring and judging sustainable house designs and models produced by the students. This relationship led to the installation of an Educational Model of GRID, our pre-fabricated sustainable housing solution, in the school to deepen the students understanding of what it means to be sustainable.
In this application, GRID will be known to the students as ‘Sustainable House’.
GRID is not a shipping container, or refrigeration panels. It has material and spatial quality that separate it from other prefabricated buildings on the school grounds. Above all GRID is joy. It is our hope that this will inspire the students, encourage them to think more sustainably, and lead to a demand for better pre-fabricated classrooms.
GRID Sustainable House was installed one Saturday morning, and will be formally opened by the school with a special event where the schools string quartet will play. Sustainable House will be used as part of the STEM program to engage the students in sustainability, and challenge the typical notion of home, as well as a performance space (performance space? Should this be classroom?). GRID offers a tangible 1:1 model, which the students can engage with to supplement current sustainability principles taught in the curriculum.
In a world increasingly challenged by man-made and natural disasters, GRID was initially developed as a sustainable housing prototype, which can be assembled quickly and transported cheaply and easily to diverse and remote locations. This same methodology has been applied here in an education setting where quick and efficient construction reduces the impact on students and school grounds.
The strategy for GRID to devise both an ‘ideal’ and a ‘re-use’ system that could operate interchangeably in all conditions. In disaster zones the materials would comprise objects and materials retrieved from debris. In less compromised circumstances, the shelters, pre-fabricated off-site, can be transported ‘flat-packed’ by road or rail either to remote communities or industrial locations.
The clean lines and modest materials of GRID belie many sophisticated ideas. Inverted Arrow props, traditionally used for scaffolding are reinvented as its support columns and can be adjusted to suit large variations in devastated terrain. This pre-fabricated ‘Ikea’ concept, based on a 2.4 metre unit system of standard material lengths and truck-load capacity, can be easily transported as a ‘flat-packed’ unit to diverse, remote and inaccessible locations and assembled by four unskilled workers in one day.
True to its claims, the prototype, gradually refined was recently assembled on site in one Saturday morning (repeat). In community contexts, GRID can be arrayed in different configurations to respond to the specific contextual and administrative requirements of family, culture or work.”