Woodland Classrooms, portals between the familiar territory of the school and the mysterious world of the forest - TimberOnWeb
The Woodland Classrooms project is creating a narrative that opens up imaginative interactions with the natural environment. Thanks to the uniquely shaped wooden structure rise these two new classrooms with an intimate atmosphere that prepare children for a future of autonomy and inclusion
Belvue School is a secondary school for boys with learning disabilities. The school site is adjacent to an underutilized forest that the school manages as an educational nature reserve. In 2014, the school approached Studio Weave to ask if space for extracurricular activities could be obtained in the forest, large enough and on a limited budget. Studio Weave worked with the school to develop the design of two new woodland rooms, separate from the main building, which provide 150 square meters more space for activities and feature a more domestic quality and intimate scale
The designers observed that the boundary between the playground and the forest marks the boundary for the children between the familiar territory of the school and the magical, mysterious world beyond.
The design process included story-writing workshops with students to develop a collective narrative of the forest and identify how this "portal," the Woodland Classrooms, could interact with it. The classrooms were to provide three types of learning spaces: The Cosy Lounge for teaching and interacting with the forest, offering a connection, rare and valuable for children, with wildlife as well as being a protected sensory space in which to calm down; The Sociable Kitchen, a cafeteria with food preparation area and small group dining room; and The Messy Barn for outdoor learning regardless of weather conditions
These functions enable students to learn essential life skills in their transition to becoming adults in an inclusive society. By encouraging and inspiring students to take on additional responsibilities and be more self-reliant, the school nurtures their social, emotional and personal development, leading them toward opportunities for employment and independence.
The concave ceiling of the wooden building allowed for a reduced height when entering the space, creating an intimate domestic staircase that opens up as you move toward the center of the room. The curved ceiling also allows light from the windows to pour across its entire surface, filling the space with natural light. The effect created by this shape allows spaces to be fully ventilated naturally