Perhaps it's no accident that many school buildings today resemble prisons -- even conventional school system is suspect (anyone in doubt, read former teacher John Gatto's "Weapons of Mass Instruction" on the hidden side of compulsory schooling). Rather than factories producing non-thinkers, school architecture itself should support and encourage our children's exploration and understanding of the world -- something that Australian design firm LAVA incorporates in their mobile, prefabricated "Classroom of the Future."
The curvy, "future-proofed" classroom consists of various lightweight modular elements of green materials and components, and is conceived as a more palatable and eco-friendly version than the trailer classroom, called a "relocatable" in Australian terms:
Relocatables are the decades old solution to changing demographics, remote community needs, and natural disasters. Unsightly, they are perceived as cheap and unpleasant spaces. This idea is upturned with spaces that are sustainable, practical, cost-effective whilst making learning fun and exciting.
The classroom is made up of three interlocking spatial components, which allow a panoramic view for students, and which can be insulated as local climatic conditions dictate.
There's rainwater harvesting on the roof, which is stored in a reservoir beneath the structure. Classrooms can be modified accordingly to different climates. For example, in temperate climates, water can be fed into an underfloor piping system to create thermal mass that will help passively regulate interior temperatures.
In arid climates, evaporative cooling is employed to help reduce energy consumption on hot days, and winter heating is provided by solar thermal collectors, which are connected to a condensing boiler. The roof also uses thin-film photovoltaics for collecting solar energy.
Beyond its ecologically-friendly features, this classroom's form and vision is a bold and certainly much-appreciated departure from the restrictive and uninspiring educational structures our society insists on foisting onto our children. More information on the LAVA blog.