Building project teaches lessons about sustainability

By Dionne Christian

Recycled Playhouses, made by first year Auckland University architecture and planning students,use recycled and reclaimed materials. Photo:Jason Oxenham.
Recycled Playhouses, made by first year Auckland University architecture and planning students,use recycled and reclaimed materials. Photo:Jason Oxenham.

Discarded CDs and vinyl records, ice cream container lids and bottle tops, wooden pallets and plastic bags are not your usual building materials, but a group of architecture students have used them to create four of the most pleasing playhouses you ever saw.

And they did it with virtually no budget.

The first year students at the University of Auckland's School of Architecture and Planning were requested to make something for Artweek so tutor Matt Liggins asked if they were up for challenge.

Working in groups of three or four, they had to design, plan and build playhouses using only recycled materials and $75 each for timber and cement. The playhouses also had to be watertight, with cladded roofs, and students were forbidden to use power tools.

Mr Liggins says they've done him proud by coming up with four different playhouses built from a range of materials everyday folks leave behind while every nail has been hammered by hand and every piece cut using hand-saws or scissors.

Student Joseph Trace says it was grubby work at times, going through rubbish and recycling bins and scouring building sites and wreckers' yards for suitable materials.

But he and his classmates say they've learned valuable lessons about team work, time management - they had just three weeks to complete the project - building methods and the limits of certain materials.

Mr Liggins says it also encourages students, right from the outset of their training, to consider sustainability and recycling.

The playhouses will be donated to childcare centres, including one at Auckland University, but the public can see them in Lorne Street on Wednesday evening as part of Artweek's Late Night Art. Other university projects will also be displayed around Lorne, High and Fort Streets to show the range of work and research done at the School of Architecture and Planning.

Several galleries in the area, including Auckland Art Gallery, will be open late and StreetARTdego sees central city food trucks and artists join forces to create unique dining experiences.

• Late Night Art, central Auckland is Wednesday, October 12 from 6pm.

- NZ Herald

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