Situated along the Tchefuncta River outside Covington, Louisiana on Lake Pontchartrain’s North Shore, Teaching Responsible Earth Education (T.R.E.E.) is an organization that provides curriculum-based, environmental education to students in Orleans and adjoining parishes. Upwards of 50 fifth and seventh grade students at a time spend four to five days at T.R.E.E.’s 17-acre training ground. Under the instruction of executive director Sue Brown and others, students are exposed to the systems on Earth through thought provoking activities in the natural environment on site. This engagement activates the impulse for children to make wiser decisions on how to preserve the diversity of our natural world and to make informed choices to live more lightly on our planet.
Built in the early 1900s, the facilities at T.R.E.E. have worn through the years and have not been upgraded to accommodate the growing number of students entering the program. Currently, there are only three functioning shower stalls for use by the participants during their days-long stay. The septic systems for all the structures (dining hall, bunk house and main residence and office) are in serious need of fundamental repair and enlargement. Though the owners make earnest attempts to maintain the system as is, the need for complete redevelopment of septic and bathing facilities is a must.
The scheme proposed by the Tulane City Center team adds a new 12-shower bathhouse, calls for a complete renovation of the septic system, and specifies water-saving plumbing fixtures throughout. These components are intended for joint development to enhance the program’s mission and reinforce the formal order at the site. In this case, a large cleansing pond replaces existing field lines, providing another teaching tool about natural processes and alleviating the need for costly, code-mandated sewage equipment. As a standalone building, the bathhouse is located to formalize student entry into the facilities. The simple form evokes qualities similar to those of the existing structures, modified in this case to express raised floor plates required in this flood plain as well as the roof’s role in channeling rainwater for use in a didactic entry garden.
Jon Tate, Advising Professor
Adriana Camacho, TCC intern
Dan Etheridge, TCC support
Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation
Alpha Engineering and Design Limited
Montana State University