Sustainable classroom designs

Have you ever wondered what goes into building a new structure like your school classroom? Or how design practices can reduce our impact on the environment and bring us closer to nature? 

Now you can take a front-row seat as our team at GISS and architect Knut Menden share updates and insider information here on everything you need to know about our three new classrooms - from its biophilic design principles, to what's in the walls that achieve a comfortable temperature year-round. HINT: it's got to do with 'Passivhaus'. 

The journey begins here:

Meet the architect behind our new classrooms

Knut Menden has been involved in award winning Australian school design for 13 years, and is well known for energy efficient sustainable buildings, particularly built from low carbon mass timber.

Registered Architect Knut Menden NSW (ARB 10926), ACT (ARB 2720), Germany (AKNW 39738)
Certified Passive House Designer Knut Menden  

12 August 2021 - Design

Here's a close-up of the design behind keeping temperatures comfortable all year round - 

Our new classrooms are designed to meet the Passivhaus standard which combines thermal comfort, indoor air quality and very low energy consumption - around 90% less than standard buildings! 

This is achieved through a rigorous build quality requiring insulation that reduces thermal bridges or movement of heat, air tightness, high-performance windows and doors, and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR). 

September 2021 - Shipping & Arrival

The classroom materials were produced in September and have been loaded on a ship that arrived in Canberra in November.

November/December 2021 - Factory Prefabrication of our Classrooms

Check out this photo of our first classroom being assembled! 

Watch this cool video from our architect Knut to see how our classrooms will come together! 

Timelapse s.e.ed. - modular CLT learning space from TDA on Vimeo.

March 2022 - Opening of new Classrooms

At the beginning of this year, the eagerly awaited and urgently needed additional class rooms of GISS were opened, which were constructed according to the passive house design. As a result, the bright classrooms made of solid wood have a very low energy consumption and save CO2 emissions.

November 2022 -  GISS wins prestigious Sustainability Award

We are proud to announce that our pioneering Passivehouse classrooms have been awarded the 2022 Sustainability Award in the Category Education and Research.

The Sustainability Awards are Australia’s longest running and most prestigious awards program dedicated to acknowledging and celebrating excellence in sustainable design and architecture. betti&knut architecture were presented with the prestigious Award trophy during the 16th Annual Sustainability Award ceremony held at the Shangri La Hotel in Sydney.

The Sustainability Awards Jury commented: “Over 250 projects, people and products were submitted to the 2022 Sustainability Awards, all of which exhibited such a high calibre and level of design that choosing the finalists was an arduous task, even for our highly experienced jury. After careful and deliberate consideration, our jury managed to pick winners they believe push sustainability in the architecture and design industry to new frontiers, and that help propel Australia’s leading architects onto the global stage.”GISS Principal, Dr Lorenz Metzger, commented: “We are very proud that our new classrooms have won the prestigious Sustainability Award. At our school we encourage forward thinking and sustainability, so to see this project being awarded with the highest honour for sustainable design and innovation in Australia is very rewarding and motivating for us all.”

November 2022 -  GISS has been awarded another two awards

GISS has been awarded another two awards for our pioneering Passivehouse classrooms at the annual Australian Timber Design Awards. Now in their 23rd year, the Awards are distinguished by a proud heritage of innovation and achievement and promote outstanding timber design within all of Australia. As the jury noted:

"This is the first demountable classroom built using CLT in Australia that has been designed to the international Passivehouse standard. It has a highly energy efficient envelope so there is no heating and minimal cooling required. Built with near zero waste and installed with minimal disruption of the landscape, each classroom was installed in less than 90 minutes. It’s a fantastic example of what can be achieved cost-effectively, and a unanimous choice as a well-deserved winner of the Sustainability Award. Well done!”