St Macartan's Primary School

A 12x9 meter vacant parcel next to St Macartans' veggie patch is the setting for a new interactive outdoor space aimed at giving students the opportunity to cultivate, cook and create into the future.

The client desired to transform the vacant allotment between the existing vegetable patch and 50 000 litre water tank into an outdoor kitchen area, linking the two current initiatives in a functional manner that furthers the students involvement and understanding of self-sufficiency and sustainable practices.

A custom made stone top round table, seating 24 students, forms the centrepiece of the design. The table has been designed to include a plantar box in the centre, out of which herbs and a seedling tree will be planted. In time the seedling will develop into a broad reaching shade tree that encompasses the surrounding arbor and stone top round table. A long timber table built by St Macartans' will be situated in the southwest corner under 2 smaller shade tress, making 8 additional seating spaces. 3 smaller plantar boxes will be constructed in the shade of these trees providing additional casual seating opportunities for students.

Encircling the stone table is a three quarter elliptical Castlmaine slate bench top and cupboard structure. The bench top provides more than enough space for all students to congregate during lessons and to spread out during preparation time for meals. Included in this rustic structure is a BBQ, two sinks and custom built wood fired pizza oven enabling a variety of opportunities for students to test their culinary skills. The wood fired pizza oven will also grant students the experience of generating hot water in the rustic tradition of slow combustion stove heaters.

In the northwestern corner of the allotment a native reed bed is to be planted. The two sinks will be plumbed into this reed bed which will operate as a natural grey water filtration system, reducing pollution to storm water and providing another means for children to learn about self-sufficiency.

Materials comprising the structure have all been sourced from within Victoria, reducing transport costs and supporting local industries. Saved timbers from Bowerbird Timbers in Millgrove will be used in the construction of the bench top framing, cupboards and custom made seats. Granite from Hillview Quarry in Dromana, as well as Castlemaine slate, will be used for the extensive and durable rock work throughout the design.

The outer extremities of the storage and preparation structure have herb plots built into them giving subtle contrast to the mellow hues of the Castlemaine slate walling and providing another opportunity for the cultivation of edible plants. Building upon this idea are the reclaimed river red gum sleepers which stand upright, evenly spaced along the perimeter of the allotment.

Vertical sleepers formally describe the transition through space between the vegetable patch and kitchen with striking geometry to the surrounding curves and streamlined paths through the site. The closely spaced sleepers will provide crucial screening from the prevailing trade winds during the colder months. Steel wires will run between these sleepers and shade sail creating a large arbour. Upon this arbor edible climbing plants will be grown adding another practical element to the design.

RB Landscapes have delivered a flowing and functional design to compliment the existing vegetable patch at St Macartans Primary School in Mornington, furthuring students opportunities to learn, live and play sustainably.

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