Foto: Ekocentrum ArTUR; Peter Coch, organica.name
Ekocentrum ArTUR – Restoration of a School into an Educational Centre
Jury Award – The second place in the Adapterra Awards 2020
Restoration of a school into an educational centre is an example adaptation of an old traditional building into energetically effective and comfortable building while preserving its culture-historical value and function using alternative source of energy.
The building was restored partially with the help of volunteers who could also try their skills on insulation with use of natural renewable resources and materials. This renovation breathed life into the old unused building and it created pleasant home-like environment with healthy interior with wooden and clay surface.
The Adaptation Journey
The positive impact
We set our sights on all risks connected to the increased production of carbon dioxide. The measurements were aiming at use of local renewable materials with the need of only minimum primary energy and carbon dioxide alongside with creating healthy environment with low energy consumption.
Used and polluted water is purified and reused on the surface, rainwater is captured in basins and rain gardens, and the roof slows down the water outflow through the vegetation. This helps to mitigate the effect of rain shadow that is common in the area.
This project shows that it is possible to combine different natural-friendly approaches and still keep what we cherish with the help of volunteers. The school has become cultural and educational centre and serves as a display of sustainable solutions.
How does it work?
The goal was to preserve and restore one of the oldest public buildings in the town and create an example of low-energy standard with using eco-materials and renewable resources. At the same time, we wanted to preserve the original historical character of the building as much as possible. Everything still functional and usable remained, e.g. wooden floors and ceramic roofing tiles, original truss, windows etc.
We also dealt with remediation regarding moisture inside the building, new wiring and sanitary installations. The building was insulated with natural materials – straw blocks and fibreboards, cork, textile, hemp concrete, wool, cellulose etc. Where it was possible, the restoration was realized with respect to the original disposition of the building. The facade was professionally renovated using traditional materials and technologies with hot mortar from quicklime. In the courtyard, a kitchen extension with a dining room and stairs to the attic were realized in passive standard using prefabricated straw panels, roof with vegetation etc. Thanks to this the temperature does not increase too much in summer.
The protection of the environment and natural resources is demonstrated on heating with two heavy wood kilns and a storage stove in the dining room, solar water heating, air exchange, heat recovery and also on water cleaning in drainless root system. The water is reused for the garden and for a small pond where animals can come and drink.
The last step was to build an accommodation for participants of Ecocenter workshops and lectures in the attic.
The building used to be a primary school. For many years it had been used only as a storage, neglected and in a bad condition. The walls had moist problems; the truss was mostly healthy. The school did not have water supply or sewerage. As a source of heat, coal furnaces were used but they were removed a long time ago.
Operation and maintenance
The school is owned by a non-profit company, so the goal was to design a building with low cost maintenance and low energy consumption. Workshops and courses participants will also help to take care of the facility.
We didn’t anticipate that the building would be used by our members – by workers and craftsmen – for accommodation when they have contracts nearby. Constructing a building with natural tools brings together professionals also during their work-related time and creates their second “home“.
Why was the measure chosen?
We were considering many different solutions but, in the end, we chose the measures that met all the criteria of sustainability, were most economically beneficial and which we could realize ourselves.
Obstacles and challenges
One of the biggest challenges was the budget available. The biggest technical challenge was to insulate the building sufficiently as we were aiming to reach the passive standard.
How much did it cost?
Total cost: 120,000 EUR.
Financed by small grant, own work and volunteer work.
Expected return on investment is 8 years.
Expected life of the investment id 60 years.
Savings are 15,000 EUR a year.
Public buildings Urban greenery Water purification and recycling Use of rainwater Heating Green roof Biodiversity Lack of water and drought Green energy Energy savings