Green house a prize possession

Merewether High School students outside the house they designed.Students at Merewether High School can see the future - literally.

Thanks to the efforts of four Year 9 Technology and Applied Studies students the Newcastle school now is home to a unique, futuristic environmentally friendly house.

Designed by students James McMurray, Claire Burgess, Nina Long and Macfarlane Amey, the building was the main prize in last year's Future Homes 2010 (FH10) competition and was recently officially opened.

The competition was the Department of Education and Training's Year of Learning for Sustainability design challenge for Hunter Central Coast students in Years 9 and 10, who worked in teams to design a low-cost, energy- and water-efficient home of up to 20 square metres.

Merewether principal Yvonne Keevers said the house was an amazing gift that would "serve as an important educational resource not only for our students, but for all students and staff across the Hunter who visit it".  

"The school is developing teaching and learning modules that will be available for staff and students who see the home to engage in authentic learning that is relevant to a number of Key Learning Areas," she said.

Ms Keevers also paid tribute to Craig Riddle, the owner of Living Green Designer Homes, who donated the construction of the house as the main prize.

"The home is proof of Craig's dedication and loyalty to a greener and better future," she said.  

"Craig has invested a significant amount of his time, energy and finances into the final product. Craig and his team have worked tirelessly to deliver a prize that was beyond all expectation. Craig's efforts, in producing this final outcome, have provided a wonderful legacy of his commitment to the education of young people."

Mr Riddle provided the inspiration for the project and was involved throughout, speaking to students about sustainable design and working directly with them to bring their design to life at his factory.

The home was delivered in two parts: the body of the house and the special roof that is angled to maximise the effect of its solar array, provide shade in the summer, natural warming in winter, and to collect rainwater.

The winning team said Mr Riddle had been an inspiration in helping turn their vision into a reality.

"We spent a day working in the factory at Wyong and then worked putting it together on site at the school," said James.

"We are really excited to see it here at the school and that it is pretty much identical to the sketch we did of it."

However he said during the building process, Mr Riddle and his team had been able to include extra features they had not thought possible.

The win had also helped cement the students' thoughts on a future career, they said.

While James was considering engineering, Nina was now leaning toward environmental engineering, with Claire saying the experience had cemented her desire to be an architect.

Photo: Merewether High School students outside the house they designed. Photo by Christine Prietto.

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