Clay Lane Education Centre: river model and outdoor classroom

The Client: Affinity Water

The site: Clay Lane Education Centre provides practical learning experiences in water, energy and environmental issues. The centre has welcomed school visits since it opened in 1998, with at least 6000 visitors a year. Located in Bushey, Hertfordshire the education centre sits within a 30 acre site boasting a variety of habitats including mature woodland, meadow and ponds.

The brief: To re-design the river model used to educate visitors on the different river features from source to mouth and to construct an outdoor class room.

Our solution: We constructed the casing of the elevated river model with sleepers and filled it with soil which was moulded to create the features of a river including tributaries, meanders, levees and oxbow lakes. Rocks were placed at the river source, artificial turf was used to cover the flood plains and the estuary used gravel to allow water to soak away. The model is fed using rainwater harvested on site. We also constructed a wooden frame outdoor classroom lined with benches and with detachable blinds to keep out the elements.

The result: An attractive model that is easier to maintain which offers a fun learning experience to visitors, and an outdoor classroom that can be used come rain or shine

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