Why a primary school in Westcliff-on-Sea has a cardboard classroom block
Wish you were here? A row of beach huts in Thorpe Bay, Southend, a mere pebble’s throw away from Westborough Primary School. Image by Sue Chillingworth (via Shutterstock).
Your schooldays, they say, are the happiest days of your life. For some, eleven or twelve nightmarish years where the mere mention of Harrytown or Werneth sends shivers down your spine. Especially when you catch the 383 or 384 to Romiley or Stockport (which passes the two schools). At some schools, mobile buildings have been used to add space. Back in 2001, Westborough Primary School near Southend-on-Sea went for a cardboard classroom.
You may remember our previous article on a cardboard cathedral in New Zealand, but a classroom made of cardboard? With 90 square metres space, the cardboard structure is a multi-functional building which includes toilets, changing rooms, and a classroom. It was designed by Cottrell and Vermeulen Architects, with all of its pupils fully involved in the design process. 90% of the structure is recyclable material. Once the building reaches the end of its design life, the cardboard classroom can be recycled.
Prior to design and construction, pupils were consulted at every stage. This included lessons that detailed the recycling process. Plus they were asked to collect recyclable cardboard, as part of its construction. In 2002, it won four awards: a RIBA Award; the RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize; the RIBA Journal Sustainability Award; and a Civic Trust Awards Commendation.
The prototype building was funded by its research partners and the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR). This was through their ‘Partners in Innovation’ programme. The cardboard classroom can be adapted for use as an after school club. If you visit the architects’ website, there’s some very good photos of the structure itself.