In a first for Sydney, students at the German International School Sydney have commenced Term 1 in sustainable classrooms made from shipping containers. 

The idea to repurpose shipping containers as classrooms came from a collaboration between architect and school parent, Andrew Nolan, and Chairman of the Board, Bernd Winter. The pair were looking for alternatives to traditional demountables.

The project incorporated the school’s eco values, as well as the need for flexibility. It consists of two free-standing buildings which were made from 12 new modified shipping containers. 

There are four spaces with two containers at floor level and another container stacked over the middle, forming a double height void with glazing to the south. The void encourages natural ventilation, maximises glare-free daylight and prevents the spatial compression of an otherwise all flat ceiling pane. The upper containers also provide compartments for air conditioning equipment and heat chambers to promote passive heating and cooling. The lower containers form large focus alcoves for presentation, engagement, reflection and display. 

“Our focus was also to ensure the new build was sympathetic to our surrounding bushland and complemented the natural topography, and this has been achieved by arranging the containers in a staggered formation across the site,” said Chairman of the Board, Bernd Winter.

“This enables separation of entry points, opens the spaces to the views and avoids the visual rigidity of a single row institutional plan.

“A stacked and staggered arrangement of containers, with simple uncluttered wall planes, is intended to be abstract and modern. It is also evocative of the elemental nature of children’s building blocks.”

The classrooms are also flexible, providing multi-functional learning spaces which can be easily adapted to suit the changing needs of the students and the school – from traditional classroom layouts to contemporary learning and teaching styles.

“I have always been a firm believer in environmental determinism: the better one’s learning environment, the greater their educational outcomes. These new work spaces at The German International School Sydney embody this principal – and I am proud to have opened them,” said NSW Education Minister Robert Stokes.