We are all excited about the refurbishment and new nursery being constructed at Millbank and lots of ideas from the parents, staff and pupils have already been incorporated into the proposals. But it is very important to us that we get the views of all pupils.
The School Council had been careful to canvass and express the views of all pupils at the first consultation about the Nursery with the Council in October 2011. Many of the current School Council were the elected representatives then too, so are getting quite good at this.
Now that plans are starting to be drawn up Miss Allen arranged for us to meet with the Architect one lunchtime to learn more about his proposals.
As a Rights Respecting School it is important that we use Article 12 and “have our say on matters that concern us” especially as this year’s theme for Human Rights Day is “My Voice Counts”encouraging all of us to take a more active role in society. As an Eco school we wanted to make sure our school was as sustainable and eco friendly as possible. And because it's Millbank everyone wants to make the buildings as fun and enjoyable to learn in as we possibly can.
The architect introduced himself as Mr Gavin Traylor he showed them the various drawings starting with a plan then 'elevations' and 'sections' as well as some 'visuals'. He took the time to run through the different parts of the school he was proposing and answered any questions.
Pupils told the Architect about all their ideas, especially for outside space - More ‘green areas’.-vegetable patches, sustainable playing areas, bird boxes. bug/bee hotels, compost bins, water butts, a wind turbine, more bike sheds and solar panels. Fitness areas-healthy living-football/netball areas. And lots of tall fences to stop the balls going over the gardens of our lovely neighbours!
He also told us of some of the difficulties of using solar energy panels both hot water and photovoltaic for school buildings which are currently empty over the sunniest times of the year. Also wind turbines are not suitable for built up areas, but he had lots of ideas how we could make the school as 'green' as possible.
Martin asked if we would be keeping our little pond, he was a bit concerned about the tadpoles and frogs in it. Gavin said that it would remain. Gavin said that he had asked the County's Landscape engineer to look at the space to see if he had any great ideas how we could fit all the suggestions in.
Lily asked the Architect what was the first thing he had to do when he was given the job. Gavin explained that before he started thinking about any designs he had to do a survey looking at the effect of the sun and prevailing wind would have on the site.
He explained to us that the school can be built to be comfortable and cool in the summer without the use of expensive air conditioning systems. There would be nice natural ventilation through the open windows up to a cowl on the roof. A bit like the school originally had when it was built 110 years ago. Mrs Brown also pointed out the old ventilation system still in the Library.
The new roof would project to protect the new hall from direct sunlight that could be uncomfortable. This would also give protection from the rain and allow the outside are to be used even in bad weather.
Rain water can be collected in an underground tank which could be used for flushing toilets instead of used clean drinking quality water from the mains-helping with sustainability. In a refurbishment it is difficult to lay out the pipes necessary to harvest the ‘grey water’ from sinks and wash hand basins around the school.
The children wanted to know if there would be a cooking area (one of their favourite activities!) – He told us that a special food hygiene/science area had been built into the designs.
The architect showed us some samples of the different materials that might be used to build the school. Pupils were very interested and impressed by the Durisol blocks that could make the walls of the new Hall. They were made from 80% recycled wood produced by a company in nearby Crumlin, but it looked like it was made from shredded wheat. The walls would be then be clad using special planks made from recycled plastic that looked like timber. The children liked the lighter oaks rather than darker teak colours.
Gavin mentioned that we all might be able to pay progress visits throughout the course of the build, which would be really great. Also that we might be able to have a live ‘Millbank Cam’ of the site, twitter updates with photos of the work as it progressed being uploaded, which we all thought would be brilliant.
At the end of the session Gavin said “I was really impressed with the enthusiastic response given by the pupils. They really engaged in the process and raised plenty of questions with the design, the choice of building materials and ‘Green’ sustainability issues. I think there may be a few future architects in the making as they certainly gave me plenty to think about and take on board.”
The pupils have been reporting back to their classes about the meeting.We would still like to hear ideas and suggestions as to what we could do with the building to make Millbank an outstanding school for the next 110 years of it's history.
Every pupil at Millbank took part in a Construction Industry Skills Award, meeting and working with Architects, Landscape Designers, Engineers and builders. The did some lovely projects on the buildings down Cardiff Bay. Another popular project was the design a building for Cardiff bay as part of a geography field trip.
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