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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 13 December, 2018
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Students in Mayo built this impressive outdoor classroom

The structure has already attracted a lot of interest from locals and someone even celebrated a 50th birthday there recently.

IT LOOKS LIKE it was plucked out of the daydream of a bored schoolchild, in the middle of a tedious maths lesson.

But this impressive structure on the GMIT campus in Mayo is very real and is the result of months of work by a group of students and one lecturer at the institute of technology.

Dr Davy Walsh explained that he has been using the woodland trail on the Mayo campus for a variety of different classes and the outdoor classroom is an extension of this.

The two main students involved with the building were Andreas Koeing, who, conveniently, happened to be a master weaver, and Aodhan Conneely who had been heavily involved in the woodland trail project.

Along with a small group of other students, they designed and constructed the classroom, settling on a simple willow hut.

“The idea is to make it as useable as possible,” Walsh said. “We want it to be an open space so that it’s practical and can be used for things like teambuilding exercises. We have one bench in it at the moment, but the plan is to put a few benches in that can be moved around so you can have a lecture in there.”

The roof is reasonably waterproof – it’s survived eight storms through the winter so far.

The team is keen not to introduce anything into the structure that is “negative to the environment”, Walsh said.

The building is beautiful and it really blows people away, especially when they realise it’s actually growing as it stands there, the willow is growing on it. It’s genuinely very, very unique.

“There has been a lot of local interest. The local Scouts are especially keen to use it for the Beavers and there are yoga instructors interested in using it too. Even yesterday when I was driving past, I could see people in it.

Someone actually celebrated a 50th birthday there two weeks ago. We have a plastic drum that we use as a bin and we found a ‘Happy 50th birthday’ balloon in it. ”

He said the students see it as a gift to the community and the hope is that it can be used in a variety of different ways, particularly when the college term starts after the summer.

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