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Solar-Powered Outdoor Classroom Unveiled in AliefUH Architecture Project Included as Part of Alief SPARK Park and Nature Center
The outdoor classroom/butterfly pavilion was the 23rd project undertaken by UH’s Graduate Design/Build Studio (part of the university’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture). The structure is across the street from Youngblood Intermediate School on property owned by Alief Independent School District. It complements the park’s community garden (designed by UH architecture professor Susan Rogers) and allows a space for gardening demonstrations and social activities. Youngblood teachers and students also will use it for educational activities.
Powered by four solar panels (generating 800 watts of electricity), the classroom will have a ceiling fan to provide relief from the heat and lights for nighttime activities. It also will include concrete benches and a slanted roof that will direct rain through a gutter system and into eight connected rain barrels. Collected rainwater can then be used in the garden.
Houston's SPARK School Park Program funded the project with support from Alief Independent School District, Alief International District and Coca-Cola. Other collaborators include architect Christof Spieler and Tolunay-Wong Engineers Inc.
UH’s Graduate Design/Build Studio (UHGDBS) is led by UH architecture professor Patrick Peters and is comprised of graduate architecture students. Each year, the studio takes on community projects at Houston schools, parks and non-profit organizations.
Last month, UHGDBS received the Mayor’s Proud Partner Award for its efforts on the Alief project. The award is presented by Keep Houston Beautiful and recognizes projects that beautify the city.