The Self-Build Classroom was conceived as a ‘demonstration’ project for the RIBA’s Architecture Week. The design of the building was based on the approach developed by Walter Segal in the 1970’s and which used a simple timber-frame suitable for use by self-builders and others with low skills bases.
The project involved working with the Tamar Education Business Partnership and students from Parkside Community Technology College. Using the initial group of around 15 students and a small number of adult helpers, the basic timber frame was erected in less than a week. By the time it was completed a total of around 55 students had been directly involved. The building had a number of environmentally based elements including a grass roof, solar panels and a wind turbine.
The new classroom was a valuable resource for the TEBP providing accommodation that was used by local community groups and schools. It also doubled as a learning resource for demonstrating the principles of environmentally sustainable design.
One of the most important outcomes of the project was the visible development of pride and self-esteem amongst the students as the build progressed. Not only were they able to gain valuable design and construction experience to serve them in later life, but they gained a sense of personal achievement that many had not found in conventional education.