Shipping Container Learning Center

Shipping Container Learning Center Lands In  Australian Aboriginal Community

by  Bridgette Meinhold

During the last 6 months, the Faculty of  Architecture, Building and Planning teamed up with the Faculty of Education at  the University of Melbourne to build a childhood learning center  for an indigenous community in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Using  four recycled shipping containers, the student team built the center in 10 days time using prefabricated  elements, a large shade roof and native landscaping. The University of Melbourne  partnered to build the project with the Gumala Aboriginal Corporation (GAC), and organization that  works to protect indigenous people’s heritage, culture and languages. The new  center aims to help prepare children with a solid foundation for their

Early Childhood Learning Center, University of Melbourne, Gumala Development Corporation, humanitarian design, shipping containers, cargotecture, australia

The student project was completed through a design/build course at the university as  part of the Bower Studio, a program that works with indigenous communities  to build the infrastructure. Over their fall semester, the students researched  and interviewed the community to discuss their needs and wants. The small  community of Wakuthuni, who are members of the GAC, asked to have the early  childhood center because they wanted their young children (infants to age 5) to  have the right start to their education.

Results of their research led the student team to design an open-air center  using four shipping containers. Three of the four containers  were shipped directly from Perth to the site, while the fourth container came  from Melbourne packed with tools, the prefabricated window units and the  over-arching roof. Students arrived in Wakuthuni on June 20th and spent the next  10 days hard at work placing the containers, building the deck and roof, and  planting the landscape with native flora.

The architecture students worked closely with the education students to  design a space to accommodate specific learning areas and to provide exactly  what the community wanted. The project was more than just about design and  construction, but also about listening and working with a client to produce a  meaningful project. Now that the center is completed, the Department of  Education is working with the community to develop a culturally appropriate  childhood education program. The architecture department has plans to continue  working with the GAC on sustainable housing and other humanitarian projects for the area.

 

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