Heathrow to fund soundproof outdoor learning buildings

Heathrow has announced a pioneering ‘adobe’ buildings scheme, a world first for airports.

The airport will provide 21 local schools with an amount of £85,000 each, a total of nearly £1.8 million, to install an ‘adobe’ building in their premises. The scheme is part of Heathrow’s pledge to explore innovative solutions for reducing the impact of aircraft noise on local communities.

The only known airport in the world to support local schools, Heathrow’s move comes after the completion of successful adobe building pilot in Hounslow Heath Infant School. Children use the building during playtime and lunch breaks, and it supports the school’s curriculum by providing opportunities for outdoor learning without interruption from aircraft.

An invention of Californian architect, Nader Khalili, adobe buildings are specially designed eco-friendly domes made from long tubes of soil. The innovative shape and design – which can seat up to thirty pupils – offers noise respite from overhead aircraft, while retaining a feeling of being outside.

Kathryn Harper-Quinn, head teacher from Hounslow Heath Infant School said: ‘At Hounslow Heath Infant School we are delighted with the impact our wonderful adobe buildings have had on our teaching. Children and staff can all enjoy and benefit from carefully planned experiences outdoors without the disruption from aircraft noise. We welcome Heathrow’s Adobe Policy as a wonderful opportunity for schools to enhance outdoor learning for their pupils being educated in the communities around Heathrow Airport.’

Matt Gorman, sustainability director, said: ‘We know that aircraft noise has an impact on local communities. This new and innovative scheme has already proved a great success in providing pupils with noise respite and we hope all 21 schools will enjoy the buildings as much as Hounslow Heath has.’

Heathrow will fully fund the scheme across all schools that have qualified for sound insulation and ventilation through the Community Buildings Noise Insulation Scheme. The scheme is designed to provide acoustic insulation to noise sensitive buildings in the community.

Since 2005, Heathrow has provided noise insulation for schools to ensure that indoor lessons continue uninterrupted by aircraft noise.

The UK hub has recently published ‘a quieter Heathrow’ report, which sets out Heathrow’s commitments to reducing aircraft noise while safeguarding the hub’s connectivity. The report suggests the key focus areas for tackling aircraft noise: quieter planes, quieter operating procedures, noise mitigation and land-use planning, operating restrictions and working with local communities.