Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The Architecture of an Enviroschool

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posted on 2024-01-24, 00:00 authored by Simon Warden

The purpose of this thesis is to provide research into the ability primary schools can have towards educating youth about lessons of environmental sustainability. The thesis evolves out of the widely accepted premise that architecture can contribute to enhancing human experience and habits, and thereby life. Hypothesizing that a school designed with a deeper consideration to sustainable principles can help enhance the students experience and develop a deeper understanding of the natural environment. This thesis leads a critique of current New Zealand school architecture stating that the built environment of our primary schools are not adequate to effectively teach lessons of environmental sustainability.

Although living sustainably is recognised to take many years, initiatives to begin the necessary changes are required now. This thesis is deliberately optimistic in that it assumes society is willing to make a change in current ethics, values, educational environments and living habits in order to develop a more environmentally sustainable future. The resulting design proposal provides an innovative solution out of the conclusions developed in the thesis.

Many people may be surprised by the profound changes and alterations required in our education environment to ultimately result in the required changes to sustainable living. The inherent optimism of this thesis seeks a perfect outcome however recognises this may be outside of the realistic monetary and social constraints of the proposed school and New Zealand's education system.

The architectural components of a school should employ green design in a way that enforces a different set of underlying human ethics and values than what is currently accepted. The built environment of an early childhood education facility has a significant influence on a student’s long term values, attitudes and lifestyle habits. By guiding students towards environmental sustainability and truthful models of sustainable development at a young age major flow-on effects can be achieved. Long term this contributes towards human behavior and a realistic start to an environmentally sustainable lifestyle.

It is important for New Zealand to utilize the power of education and act as a world leader in education for sustainability. Moreover, it is an opportunity to demonstrate innovative leadership for the future of sustainable living.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

280104 Expanding knowledge in built environment and design

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


De Sylva, Shenuka