Monthly Archives:March 2014

Castle Hill School New Classroom (press release)

17 Mar 14
Michelle Gaffaney
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Straw, earth, wood, stone and Sedum – these will be the main building products used to create Castle Hill School’s new eco–classroom.

Castle Hill School needs more day to day classroom space incorporating a library zone. The space will also be used for their after school clubs, and for cooking activities.

That is when Greenstone Design got involved. Greenstone Design have designed a simple and innovative building with a focus on the materials used and maximising the learning opportunities for the children and the local community. A new indoor space that reflects the ethos of the school and their links to the local community and local groups such as Incredible Edible Todmorden.  A new verandah, incorporating an existing outdoor structure, will provide additional learning space for groups to use outside and somewhere to shelter during playtimes if it is wet.

Michelle, Director of Greenstone Design said:

We are really pleased to be involved in this local project. Many school buildings need considerable refurbishment or extra space for growing numbers of pupils. Castle Hill has already turned unusable space into learning platforms by creating a forest school and growing beds in the playground.  This building will provide much needed creative space for pupils to develop their ideas and also will host after school clubs. We strongly believe that the environment around us directly effects children’s attitudes and their ability to learn and explore ideas.  It is because of this that we want to create beautiful, inspiring learning spaces for local school children and teachers.

Greenstone Design will provide a full design and build service to the school handing over a finished school building ready to move the furniture in and to make it their own. But children and local people will not have to wait until the end of the construction process to find out about the building. Local people will have the opportunity to learn the construction techniques building of cob and straw bales by coming on training courses. Cob will be used to create reading nooks in the library. This is where course participants can let their creative juices flow.

The materials have been chosen to create a super insulated, acoustically sound and healthy building. No toxic materials will be used in the building fabric and every care will be made to keep the local building products source as local to Todmorden as possible. The building will be clad to the rear and side with Larch boards. This will be harvested by local company Black Bark cut from the woods at Hard Castle Crags.

The highest design standards will be met for this new build classroom ensuring a safe and inspiring learning space for our young people.

Pictures and updates about the building will be posted up in the Greenstone Design window on Rochdale Road in the Centre of Todmorden.

If you are interested in attending one of the courses please contact us at and ask to be put on the Straw Bale Course mailing list.

A new classroom for Castle Hill School

06 Mar 14
Michelle Gaffaney
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We are thrilled to be the chosen design and build company for Castle Hill School’s new classroom.

Designing for a school is always time to push the boat out and design something that is fun, interesting and reflects the ethos of this brilliant and ambitious local school.

The new Castle Hill School building design is inspired by a dynamic and forward thinking school which honours its local community and wants to provide a sustainable and fun learning environment for its pupils. Straw, stone, lime, earth, and wood are the main building materials. Together they will form a long lasting a healthy place for young people to explore ideas and develop their young minds.

The new classroom will be used to host pre and after school clubs, to do cooking classes and as a library and informal ICT suite. Simplicity allows for flexibility.  Looking to the future all schools need to be flexible and creative with their learning methods, bringing in space for new technologies and developing links with the local community. This building will allow for that by creating an adaptable space that can be changed to suit the needs of the group. Straw and clay will be used to create soft reading nooks for informal learning.

The outside is as important as the inside for learning opportunities. The new building will incorporate changes to the playground area creating more Incredible Edible beds, a veranda for covered outdoor playing and a green roof will increase the habitat space for birds and wildlife. The building will be clad with larch which we are hoping will be sourced from Hardcastle Crags by local company Black Bark and lime render will provide weather proofing for the straw bale walls.

This super energy efficient building will maximise the warmth from the sun from glazing to the south side. Calculations show that only minimal heating will be required to provide optimal temperatures once the heat from the pupils is taken into account. Straw bales provide excellent insulation properties and the internal cob walls will hold the heat from the sun and act like a radiator.

We are working with the school to make sure that it is not only the finished building which provides learning opportunites but that we maximises the community involvement throughout the construction process. We will be running courses on straw bale building and cob building for local people. So watch this space for more details and if you would like to get involved please email us to get onto the mailing list:

The wall raising will be over this summer.