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Whimsical playhouse gifted to local Enviroschool by the University of Auckland

Sunday October 16, 2016

A playhouse built using recycled materials will have a new home next week, after being gifted to a local Kindergarten by the University of Auckland.

The tiny whimsical house, built by students from the School of Architecture and Planning, is one of four constructed from bottle caps, ice cream container lids, compact discs, rubber, and flattened aluminium drink cans, as well as sustainable eco timber supplied by Abodo Wood.

The playhouse, which makes a statement about sustainability and at the same time teaches first-year architecture students the fundamentals of building, has been donated to Epsom South Kindergarten, as members of the Enviroschool network.

Head teacher at the Kindergarten Julie Sadlier says, “we like to teach our kids about sustainability, so a recycled playhouse provides a practical lesson for the children in a delightfully fun way.”

Matt Liggins, who teaches first and second-year design to architecture students, says the School of Architecture and Planning offered a stage one paper in workshop construction for the first time this year.

In the process of finding out about nogs, studs, joists and the like, the students gained practical building experience and also learned about recycling and integrating sustainable thinking into their designs.

“I got the students to go out and look around the streets and recycling bins and demolition yards to find stuff that was throw away that could be re-used to create something new,” Matt says.

“They came up with their own imaginative designs using all sorts of recycled materials and it was pretty exciting to see the small colourful buildings take shape,” he says.

The students were given a framing plan for the houses and were expected to make timber framing and build watertight and insulated or lined structures with a door and non-breakable windows.

“This has been a good way to open their eyes to see what products we are throwing out that can be used again,” Matt says. “They are getting a grasp of the importance of sustainability and the environment in their first year of study and can use this throughout their degree and into their futures.

“There are some great examples of buildings made of recycled products around the world where, instead of demolishing and throwing away masonry, concrete and tiles, these materials are re-used to create something new.

“This is not common practice here, yet. But hopefully, by getting our architecture students thinking about this, they will become architects who contribute to change in the built environment by integrating sustainability into their designs.”

Back at Epsom South Kindergarten, Julie and the other staff hope the playhouse will spark the children’s imagination, while also teaching them about some of the numerous ways of recycling.

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