TEACHING CHANGE – INDONESIA BALI /JOHN & CYNTHIA HARDY: THE GREENEST SCHOOL ON EARTH

Innovative and experimental, the ‘Greenest School on Earth’ (awared by the US Center for Green Schools in 2012) used 99 percent natural and local materials, combining predominantly bamboo

Soothing their Conscience

After seeing Al Gore’s documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, John and Cynthia Hardy sold the shares in their successful jewelry company and built an educational center that was awarded as the ‘Greenest School on Earth’ by the US Center for Green Schools in 2012. Innovative and experimental, its constructors used 99 percent natural and local materials, combining predominantly bamboo (that even serves as a basic structure to the blackboards), with local alang-alang grass and mud. Boasting what is likely to be the largest building in Asia made in bamboo, and propagating the possibilities of this recently rediscovered green material, none of the classrooms have walls, in order to heighten the contact with the tropical settings. The school also pioneers a trailblazing and more holistic approach to education by combining the classic academic one with experiential  ‘Learn by Doing’, ‘Green Studies’ and creative arts, trying to redefine the idea of school, and transforming its students into ‘stewards of social sustainability’. Max Borka reports. 

Bamboo is unique in its efficiency: incredibly strong, flexible, and an excellent means for carbon sequestration. Its growth cycle takes no longer than four years, so there’s also plentiful available. Traditionally used throughout Asia, until recent this only happened in short-term structures, since the material wasn’t immune to bugs. But new treatment methods with borax salt have given bamboo a long life capacity, and turned it into an excellent alternative in the fight against the further depletion of rainforests.

GRASS & MUD

One of the most impressive recent examples illustrating the material’s potential is the Green School conceived by environmentalist and designer John Hardy and his wife Cynthia. Located on 8 hectares of lush jungle in Sibang Kaja, the center of southern Bali, Indonesia, and straddling both sides of the Ayung River, the school was built within eighteen months, on the principle of using 99 percent natural materials: Indonesian bamboo (that even serves as a basic structure to the blackboards), local alang-alang grass, and mud. Innovative and experimental, the educational center has thus set itself the aim of demonstrating the possibilities of the material.

RIG

While also housing the Meranggi Foundation, which develops bamboo plantations through presenting bamboo seedlings to local rice farmers; and PT Bambu, a for-profit design and construction company that promotes the use of bamboo as a primary building material and sustainable architecture in general, in an effort to avoid the further depletion of rainforests, the campus is powered by a number of alternative energy sources, including a bamboo sawdust hot water and cooking system, a hydro-powered vortex generator, bio-diesel and solar panels. Surrounded by a sports field, gymnasium, a guesthouse, ponds, gardens walkways, and a plethora of classrooms and other facilities, the central bamboo structure is likely the largest bamboo building in Asia. None of the classrooms have walls, in order to heighten the contact with the tropical settings. Fresh air and fans provide a natural cooling system. And when it does rain, there is a rig to keep the rain and wind out.

TRAILBLAZING

All classrooms have customized gardens that the students collectively tend to. For Hardy, renowned for his unconventional ideas, also tries to pioneer a trailblazing approach to education. International in its teaching and learning, and awarded as the 2012 ‘Greenest School on Earth’ by the Center for Green Schools, its students come from different corners of the world to join a core Balinese community of scholars – representing up to 20% of our enrolment. The school’s curriculum reaches from nursery through high school, and tries to redefine the idea of school – by combining the classic academic one with experiential  ‘Learn by Doing’, ‘Green Studies’ and creative arts.

VILLAGE

The school’s program includes planting and growing food organically, looking after animals, studying alternative energy, using bamboo as a feature in design-and-make projects, etcetera. The ultimate aim: to improve the human spirit, and to inspire students to be more curious, more engaged and more passionate about the environment and the planet, making them ‘stewards of social sustainability’. Due to its revolutionary approach, the Green School soon attracted global media attention, while John has recently teamed up with his daughter, Elora, to build the world’s first Green Village, an innovative residential villa development located within walking distance to the river valley campus. “I just wanted to provide my grandchildren with an answer that would also sooth my conscience, when they would wonder: what did grandfather do in 2012” –says Hardy.(2006-ongoing) www.greenschool.org

INDONESIA: BALI: JOHN & CYNTHIA HARDY- THE GREENEST SCHOOL ON EARTH 1 INDONESIA: BALI: JOHN & CYNTHIA HARDY- THE GREENEST SCHOOL ON EARTH 2 INDONESIA: BALI: JOHN & CYNTHIA HARDY- THE GREENEST SCHOOL ON EARTH 3 INDONESIA: BALI: JOHN & CYNTHIA HARDY- THE GREENEST SCHOOL ON EARTH 4 INDONESIA: BALI: JOHN & CYNTHIA HARDY- THE GREENEST SCHOOL ON EARTH 5 INDONESIA: BALI: JOHN & CYNTHIA HARDY- THE GREENEST SCHOOL ON EARTH 6

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