The Maker’s Clubhouse is an early childhood learning center being developed in the original building of the first African American church in Homewood. Sitting across the street from the Helen Faison elementary school, the abandoned and gutted building will see new life when developed as a before- and after-school center. The project is a collaboration with NK Architects.
The building has two levels: an open first floor, and a ground level with large windows. The first floor space will have exposed structure and skylights, and will retain the original stained glass windows. It will provide space for large and small groups, with flexible furniture arrangements.
The ground floor will include a technology center with computers and 3D printing, along with a small kitchen that will be used as part of the educational program. This floor will have large tables and chairs for long-term projects that need to remain in place. The ground floor will also house an office, storage areas, and rest rooms.
A deck outside the first floor level will have an outdoor kitchen and space for classes. Vertical gardens along the deck will be a resource for instruction about agriculture and the eco-system. A small lift located next to the stairs will provide an accessible entrance for the learning center.
All the materials in the building will be low VOC and non-toxic, and building elements will be reused whenever possible. Signage throughout the space will include information about the building and its interaction with the environment, including the building’s carbon footprint, the way PV arrays work, air-quality and its effect on health, and the relationship that plants have with the sun. An outside sign will report on air-quality each day.
The structure will be built to Passive House standards to provide a building with utility costs 65-75% less than traditional code built construction, insuring the center won’t be burdened with high utility bills in the future. Passive House construction will provide low-energy and thermal comfort, and superior air-quality due to continuous ventilation, while also providing a concrete educational opportunity to explore building science.
A PV array on the roof will help tip the building’s energy use toward net zero. Children will be able to learn about alternate forms of energy and will be able to monitor the building’s energy use and performance. In addition, there will be air-monitoring equipment and a weather station so that children can view the superior air-quality within the building and compare it to the frequently polluted air outside. The students will be able to gain an understanding of the regional issues of air quality, as well as understand the relationship between air-quality and health. Stormwater collected into a bio-swale on large rain-chains will illustrate natural systems; rain barrels will be used to water the vertical gardens.
The Maker’s Clubhouse will change lives and empower younger members of the community while being a tangible teaching tool, demonstrating how buildings can help children learn.