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Elleray Prep Solar Powered on Stilts (UK)

Credits: ©2009 Rose Etherington/DeZeen Design Magazine

Jeff Salton wrote in EcoGizmo, November 2009: The recently opened Elleray Preparatory School in the Lake District National Park, UK, has three class pods standing on stilts connected by a center platform made from recycled materials, such as plastic milk bottles and wood shavings. Nestled amongst the trees, the complex is built to have a low environmental impact and therefore makes excellent use of solar power, rainwater collection, and has an energy-efficient heat pump. Named the Forest School, its three pods were designed and built by Robert Gaukroger of Kita Design Company, who lives in the same town as the school, Windermere. Due to the school’s extremely tight budget, Gaukroger donated some of his design time and building effort that equated to the cost of one of the pods. He even donated the chairs the students use to keep the design consistent. The classrooms sit high above the flora and fauna and are constructed from a ribbed timber frame which sits on atop Douglas fir stilts. Buildings are clad in English chestnut shingles and the deck, which connects the three classrooms, can be used as an outdoor teaching environment when weather permits. As with many of Gaukroger’s projects, the treehouse school focuses on “up-cycled, re-cycled and low-impact architecture and design”. The pods received a BREAM “excellent” score and feature a high efficiency heating and cooling system that utilizes a ground-source heat pump. Rainwater is collected to cut down on potable water use, and solar panels are mounted along the center of each roof to provide lighting for each building.


Elleray Site Lighting Cropped

The Elleray preparatory school features solar panels are mounted along the center of each roof to provide lighting for each building. A high efficiency heating and cooling system utilizes a ground-source heat pump. Rainwater is collected to cut down on potable water use. ©2009 Elleray Preparatory School

Following Article by Rose Etherington, DeZeen Design Magazine, November 2009
Forest School by Robert Gaukroger

Designer Robert Gaukroger has completed three wooden classrooms on stilts in a forest clearing in the Lake District, UK. Designed for the Elleray Preparatory School in Windermere, the three pod-like structures are clad in wooden shingles made of English chestnut. The structures comprise a ribbed timber frame, elevated on Douglas-fir stilts.

A deck connecting the three rooms is made of recycled plastic milk bottles and wood shavings, and will be used as an outdoor classroom in summer. The structure is meant to be used as a gallery and event venue outside term time.

Rob Gaukroger’s design practice has just completed the Forest School project at ‘Elleray Prep School’ in Windermere, in the Lake District National Park and this is just the start of a new wave of low impact, upcyled and architecturally aware project’s he has designed.

Made chiefly from timber and other materials such as the deck board made from a composite of recycled plastic milk bottles and wood shavings, this is low tech architecture at it best.

Rob Gaukroger tells us how it all came about “it wasn’t a state funded project and the budget has been tight from day one, I didn’t charge a design fee for the three years it took to take this project from an idea, through the planning process to the built solution today. I have constructed a lot of the building myself with a small team of joiners on site. The bursar at the school has kept a tight hold on the purse strings and he has got good value for money.”

Rob Gaukroger has worked closely with the ‘Lake District National Park’ planning authority, who were once seen as a stuffy authority with no appetite for modern architecture, but they are now beginning a new architectural era in the’ Lake District National Park’.

With a number of current projects on the drawing board and with the blend of form and materials in Rob Gaukroger’s work, will make exciting viewing in the future. ” I am working on a group of interesting project at the moment, I have just up-cycled part of a 1970’s private house, which is now clad in shingles, Thermowood and cedar, by highly insulating the building externally and reducing some of the window opening’s this building now has a new lease of life and is architecturally unrecognisable from its existing white rendered concrete walls and felt roof “.

”Up-cycling is the way forward, there are many 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s building made of concrete, which are not considered worth saving, but with some careful thought, a lot of insulation and some designer flair, these building can be saved from land fill and given a new beginning, by insulating the existing concrete buildings on the outside, this then creates a thermal mass from the existing concrete structure, recreating how they react and perform thermally”.

Rob Gaukroger’s practice is based in Windermere and he is anticipating his principles will become the way ahead as part of this process he is setting up a larger studio in the Lake District,” I will be appointing a design team within the next 12 months, concentrating on up-cycled, re-cycled and low impact Architecture and design”.