AMP National Scholarship recipient Sarosh Mulla is passionate about working with local communities to create free environmental education spaces and is currently working on building an innovative environmental education and research centre at the Longbush Ecosanctuary for school kids and volunteers to use free of of charge – to be known as the Welcome Shelter.
Part of the architectural designer’s PhD studies, the Welcome Shelter is designed as an outdoor classroom, with a large floating roof over three elegant wooden ‘boxes’ used for storage, a composting toilet, water and a lookout tower. Small terraces and planting boxes create a space in the landscape to welcome visitors, and to explore different aspects of Longbush and its rare and endangered species of plants and animals.
The 111ha preserve, purchased by Jeremy and Dame Anne Salmond in 2000, contains one of the few remaining remnants of lowland bush in the Gisborne district. Over the past decade the Salmonds, along with a dedicated group of volunteers and ecological experts, have worked tirelessly to restore native flora and fauna to the area and eradicate pests, create wildlife corridors between the reserve and regenerating bush in the adjacent valleys and erect predator-proof fencing – an ongoing project.
“When I heard about what the Salmonds were doing I began to think more deeply about what it meant to be an architect in a small, often skint, but thoroughly special place such as New Zealand,” says Mulla.
“I was convinced that architects could operate in the landscape in new ways. We can showcase our sustainable innovation and initiative to the world in a way that steps away from the jarring pastiche of the 100% Pure campaign. These efforts can be focussed towards community initiatives that we can all benefit from.
“My idea was that we could develop a space where environmental education and volunteer programmes could be focussed. We would build the architecture with a team of enthusiastic volunteers and with materials donated form local businesses. The space would be named the Welcome Shelter, in acknowledgement that all members of the public will be welcomed free of charge.”
Rallying a diverse group of corporate supporters and sponsors, Mulla has organised teams of volunteers to bring his vision for the Welcome Shelter to life, with site works beginning in the past couple of weeks. All these efforts paid off recently when Mulla was recognised with a $10,000 AMP National Scholarship to assist with the final costs associated with the shelter. More than 2600 people applied for a scholarship, with 15 recipients being named.
For more information about the Longbush Ecosanctuary and Welcome Shelter, visit the website.