This past week the Department of Architecture and Building (DOAB) at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology held a design-build Master Class. Master Class 2012_1, Creating a Melanesian Place for Creative Play, is an intensive, one week project in which students, faculty and local professionals designed and built a much-needed, new and safe playground on campus next to the preschool. Eight design teams consisted of 10 to 11 Architecture students who are studying at the PNG University of Technology in their 2nd – 5th years in the program. The student teams were each responsible for designing and constructing one piece of ‘play equipment’.
This project aims to challenge the often pre-conceived notion that learning happens within the confines of the four walls of a classroom. The program included seminars on topics such as the link of education through play, community consultations with the local preschoolers, design crits, site analysis, and a three-day build period. Through this process students are able to learn from real-life experiences reinforcing topics taught throughout the curriculum. During the build process skills such as on-site problem solving, estimation, design safety, construction management, construction techniques, detailing were all built on; adding value to the students experience at Unitech.
The playground was constructed from locally available materials like timber, soil, gravel, cement, as well as recycling materials from various sources, such as old tyres, Tuffa Tanks and leftover construction materials from local construction sites. This, in addition to the social aspects of the program, reinforces sustainable practices emphasized in the DOAB.
It is hoped that one of the outcomes of this project will be an increased community dialogue on the importance of education and alternative methods of teaching and learning. Many of the play structures have been designed with this aspect of creating a learning environment in mind.
The project was coordinated by Mr. Chris Dobunaba, Ms. Molly Felde under the tutelage of Dr. Andrew Sariman, Course Director. We would like to thank the following for the donations, energy, and time in supporting this program and the opportunities they have helped to create. The Department of Architecture, led by Professor Cletus Gonduan, HOD, the faculty of the DOAB, the Unitech Projects office who has worked alongside the students and helped by providing materials, the Lae Rotary who has shown their support as well as the individual members and companies they represent. The following companies for their support and donations in kind: Seeto Kui, ITWProline, K.K. Kingston, Timber and Forestry Training College, Dulux, Colorpak, Dunlop, Crosbies, Bridgestone, Nuigini Builders; as well as, SVS and Boinamo for providing transportation of materials to our site. Finally the students of the department for their energy as they worked until well past midnight all three nights in order to finish the playground along with the staff and faculty who voluntarily worked alongside them beyond all expectations. The success of this project would not be possible without all of this support.