School in Harmony with the Rural Environment
Gisborne Montessori School’s new school campus was opened on February 1st 2005 and is located on 10 acres in New Gisborne (50 kms north of Melbourne) in Australia.
The school design is based around harmony with the rural environment and has been constructed along passive solar / low energy consumption / low maintenance guidelines. The school was constructed in 5 months using mainly volunteer parent labour with a number of supporting professionals. Classrooms are oriented to the north to maximise winter sun and natural lighting. Energy efficient building materials were used to provide thermal mass http://www.timbercrete.com.au
. Double glazing and comfort-plus glass were combined to provide effective window insulation. Effective cross ventilation was achieved through classroom design; ceiling fans ensure that the classrooms remain cool in summer without the need for air conditioning. Winter heating is provided by under floor slab heading. Hot water is provided by a solar hot water system on the roof.
The school is conscious of limited water resources (the local community was on Stage 4 water restrictions when the school was built). Rather than adding to the community’s water burden, the school is water self-reliant, using a large water tank for storm water and an onsite water treatment systemhttp://www.wormfarm.com.au
to recycle waste water and irrigate native wind breaks. Biodiversity is being encouraged through the planting of thousands of indigenous trees and shrubs. Planting started on the site even before construction of the school commenced.
The school is committed to the creation of an active learning environment which will include the construction of a wetland area with a boardwalk and hide, a permaculture garden and orchard and other treasures. The Gisborne Montessori School was announced again as Finalist in the Australia wide Sustainable School Champion Award run by the Faculty of the Built Environment, University of NSW in 2003 and 2004. As this award is targeted at high schools; there are only a few primary schools that compete and it is therefore a credit to the school community that it has been nominated as a finalist for two years running in this prestigious Award.
Gisborne Montessori School has been featured in the The Owner Builder Magazine # 127 February/March 2005.