Taking the classroom outside | Architecture & Design


In educational institutions, classes do not have to end when students leave home. Here’s a selection of the latest outdoor and landscaping products to help extend the learning experience beyond the classroom.

In many ways, choosing outdoor and landscaping products in educational settings is no different than choosing them for other types of projects. Architects are looking for quality products that will meet their broader design needs; Products that are functional, durable and easy to use; that meet their budget requirements; and which meet all relevant regulatory and safety requirements.

However, there are some additional considerations. Well-designed schools are safe places where children of different abilities and educational needs play, learn, explore and grow. They are places that promote social development, health, growth and interaction. In addition, schools and other educational institutions are workplaces around which large crowds of people must be able to move as unhindered as possible.

When choosing outdoor and landscaping products for use in schools, all of these factors need to be considered. You need to look for products that cater to the needs of students and staff themselves.

Innowood

Manufactured and supplied by Innowood, an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) accredited organization and a member of the Green Building Council since 2013, Fiba-Dek is a 100% recyclable wood alternative.

Using a patented dual fiber layer in a co-extrusion that reduces and restricts the type of movement often associated with composite decking products, Fiba-Dek is durable and long lasting. Additionally, thanks to its durable, unique three-dimensional embossing pattern, the product has achieved the highest wet pendulum slip rating available. Unlike the sand/grit combination that was often used in the past, this strong adhesion does not deteriorate over time.

Fiba-Dek is lightweight and easy to install and requires little ongoing maintenance. It is water resistant, termite resistant and chip resistant, ensuring a long, trouble free life.

For all these reasons, Fiba-Dek has become a popular choice for inclusion in school projects around the world. The product was used at the recently completed Jordan Springs Public School in Greater West Sydney.

The school was designed with an emphasis on outdoor spaces and in particular the connection between soft and hard surfaces, outdoor spaces and the natural environment that surrounds them. Achieving this and creating an expansive patio area that blends the modern building design with the natural landscape required a material that would not only withstand the daily traffic of a public school, but also the demands of sustainability.

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Fiba-Dek was the material of choice that helped bring the design and vision of these outdoor spaces to life. Offering all of the above plus a resemblance to natural wood, it has proved popular with both students and staff.

Millboard Decking

Used locally in numerous educational projects – such as Melbourne Business School, St Luke Catholic College in Marsden Park, Loretto College Normanhurst and Eileen O’Connor College in Lewisham – Millboard is a UK manufactured commercial composite decking product .

Lightweight and chemically inert, Millboard will not expand like plastics or absorb moisture like wood. This means that unlike these materials, it does not require expansion joints, ventilation or ground clearance during installation.

The boards are physically incapable of warping, rotting, or harboring mold or algae, and do not require oiling or sealing. They also have the highest slip resistance available in Australia (P5), are comparable to wood in terms of heat retention and are UV stable. That last point means that Millboard will not fade significantly over time.

In terms of aesthetics, Millboard’s success stems from the fact that, unlike anything else on the market, it’s molded from impressions of real wood. The grain-enhanced style is crafted from freshly sawn English oak bottom, while the weathered oak planks are crafted from 100-year-old wharf timber from the South of France. This gives them an unusual old wood look, a bit like old railway sleepers.

The boards are light and easy to work with. They do not require any special tools or clips and can be secured to a timber deck like standard decking using Millboard Durafix screws. The benefit of this system is that they have a ‘lost’ fastener that actually ‘disappears’ into the planks giving the impression that there are no screws at all.

Moddex

Moddex – a manufacturer of modular, weld-free, hot-dip galvanized barrier systems – offers a range of balustrades and handicap handrails recommended for educational purposes.

Conectabal’s commercial balustrades have been developed to reduce the possibility of falls from heights in public areas and in particular the CB50 (Balustrade | Dual Offset Handrail) and CB55 (Balustrade | Dual Offset Handrail and Curb) – are used in primary school applications recommended .

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Offering a high safety load bearing capacity as well as compliance with all relevant standards, Conectabal commercial balustrades are suitable for use in all applications over one meter and can have mass loads up to C5 classification on request.

Meanwhile, Moddex Assistrail handrail systems for the disabled are designed to ensure students with mobility or visual impairments can traverse their schools safely and with ease.

Easily retrofitted or stripped down for reconfiguration, these products provide peace of mind that they comply with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and conform to any building classification within the National Construction Code (NCC) and New Zealand Construction Code.

A key factor that differentiates both Assistrail handrail systems for the disabled and Conectabal’s commercial balustrades is that Moddex is the only company in its field to offer a consistent modular system offering. Because they are modular, these systems can be configured to suit project requirements while meeting compliance standards such as the National Construction Code, Australian and New Zealand standards.

Holcim

The Geostone range available from Holcim includes 300 different products, each unique to a specific local region. The manufacturer sources stones and sand locally to develop a diverse range of products for all color palettes and applications.

As a result, there are practically no limits to the use of Geostone outdoors. Products can be exposed or refined, and practicality can be combined with refined design to achieve the right result for each individual project.

The quality of Geostone means less maintenance or upkeep is required. Durable by nature, Geostone is suitable for all outdoor applications and requires less maintenance over its lifetime than other flooring options. Geostone contains natural materials that have variations in color, texture, size, and shape. It is these natural variations that give concrete its character and charm, making it unique.

In addition, strength and durability are two other advantages of Geostone. Unlike other flooring and decking, which can be susceptible to rot, splitting, or termite damage, decorative concrete is durable, long-lasting, visually appealing, and practical in all weather conditions.

Street Furniture Australia

Chillout Tree is designed and manufactured by Street Furniture Australia based in Sydney. Although it presents itself as an appealing modular shade structure, it is much more than that.

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It was conceived with the ambition of addressing some important macro issues facing the Australian (and global) community; Things like the post-COVID shift to working from home, the potential of al fresco classrooms and al fresco dining, and the rising problems of loneliness, depression and obesity.

It also addresses the need for shade in urban environments, the needs of an aging population and puts the ‘smart city’ within the practical reach of local governments and others.

Therefore, Chillout Tree offers options in terms of performance, lighting, height, roof shape, shade type, and associated furniture. All these features together mean that it can be used to create outdoor classrooms, workspaces and community gathering places.

The “Smart” version of Chillout Tree includes charging for devices with optional USB or GPO ports, as well as ambient LED lighting. Power consumption can be monitored via sensors, and all components are stowed in a hatch in the “trunk”. Here they are accessible for easy maintenance and future-proof upgrades.

With a minimal footprint, the Chillout Tree design is suitable for installation in streetscapes. Its compact single pole design eliminates the possibility of it creating visual clutter. It can be combined with Street Furniture Australia’s wide range of home furnishings including picnic tables, long tables, curved benches and seats, coffee tables and dining tables.

In this way, Chillout Street is something of a one-stop solution for smart city integrations. With the seamless integration of lighting, device charging and sensors, it is a good place for communities that want to redefine the meaning of education and create the smart cities of the future.

Curvwood

Curvwood is a wood processing company focused on the production of structural and non-structural glued laminated timber (BSH). The company works primarily with architects, designers, engineers and builders to bring their wooden structures to life.

Glued laminated timber is a 19th century form of wood manufacturing that goes well with contemporary, cutting edge and sustainable design solutions. Curvwood uses glulam manufacturing to create curved wood structures with a wow factor.

Image: Moddex

Suppliers

Innowood

Millboard Decking

Moddex

Holcim

Street Furniture Australia

Curvwood



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