The project featured was completed as part of the School Assembly studio run by Dr Rachel Couper. Inspired by a seed pod, the outdoor learning pod and scattered walkway addresses the need for covered walkways and outdoor learning spaces at Dandenong Primary School (DPS). The structure mimics the form and texture of a desert oak seed pod through a series of prefabricated scissor trusses connected by sections of aluminium extrusion, and a ceramic tile cladding system. The manufacturing of the tiles involved the DPS students.

Design Concept Collage

Drawing inspiration from a seed pod, from a desert oak tree, the learning pod and walkway is proposed to connect two permanent classrooms through a section of the playground. The open structure is designed as a space for learning, play and protection from the elements. It is proposed that the ceramic tile cladding and possibly the structure will be built (under supervision) by the DPS students.

Perspective Impression

The structure mimics the form and texture of the seed pod through a series of prefabricated scissor trusses, orientated at 45 degrees in an inward direction to create the learning pod and outward direction for the walkway, and a ceramic tile cladding system. The roof is formed by coloured polycarbonate sheeting to inject colour into the project.

Prefabricated Scissor Truss

The prefabricated timber scissor truss is connected by a series of connections formed using off-the-shelf, standard profile aluminium extrusions, including square hollow section, flat bar, hollow tubing, channel and equal angle, and secured together with bolts. They are proposed to be built off-site, transported in a collapsed state, and scissored open for installation on-site.

Ceramic Tile Cladding System

The ceramic tiles are strung between the trusses on a wire rope mounting system to provide shading, acoustic treatment and aesthetic interest for the learning pod. Their triangular shape and humped form mimics the external, spiky texture of the desert oak seed pod.

Co-Build Ceramic Tile Workshop with DPS

The manufacturing process of the ceramic tiles is designed to involve DPS students as a co-design process, to develop their skills (i.e. construction and team work) and ownership of the project. As part of the prototyping requirement for the studio, I ran a virtual ceramic tile decorating workshop with students from DPS that produced 30 ceramic tiles; all of which are on display at the MADA Now Exhibition, and will eventually be given to the school.
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