Integrated into a 29-acre master plan developed on the original site of the Backache Family Farm in Albuquerque’s North Valley, the Environmental Education Building reinforces the sustainable ethic represented in the landscape and functions as an extension of the site experience. As part of an energy efficiency pilot project, the Education Building is also intended to be “on-display” where possible, with systems and material components noted and explained. Programmatic extensions of the Education Building include a shaded Outdoor Classroom, the Backache Family Memorial Rose Garden / Interpretive display, a County storage building and a Caretaker’s Residence.
Sited at the confluence of an existing acquiesce, wetland and pecan grove, the building is shaped to create an archetypical southwest-facing courtyard and to minimize development in the larger open part of the site. The building is oriented to cardinal points and to frame views of the nearby wetland, fallow field wildlife areas, a city pump station and the distant West Mesa Volcanoes and Sandi Mountains. An ‘aquarium’ view window in the classroom, also aimed at the acquiesce and wetlands visually connects visitors to the larger hydrological systems present on site and enhances the overall education experience.
TYPOLOGY / TECHNOLOGY Building systems, both passive and active, are arrayed around the south-facing archetypal Southwest courtyard implied by the building’s geometry. A 4kW bi-facial P trellis shades a south facing ‘portal’ defining an outdoor learning area. A water collection system collects all roof water for use in the courtyard gardens. Strategically located operable windows capture prevailing summer breezes to help cool the interior spaces. High glazing in the gallery hall admits bounced natural light into the gallery space. Vine-covered fences mitigate temperature around the building patios. A digital readout in the fully glazed mechanical room will compare energy use generated by the 4kW bi-facial P system to the actual energy demand of the building as well as display the evaporation cooling system.
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