Heathrow press releases

01 March, 2016

Eighth local school receives noise-proof adobe building

St. Michael and St. Martin Catholic Primary students celebrate adobe building


  •        Specially designed eco-friendly building installed for outdoor learning in Hounslow’s St Michael and St Martin Catholic Primary
  •        First of five to be installed in local schools this year
  •        Part of £1.8 million investment by Heathrow for 21 adobe buildings in local schools


Heathrow representatives and Councillor Myra Savin, Deputy Mayor of Hounslow, joined St. Michael and St. Martin Catholic Primary faculty and students for the official opening of their new adobe building today. Heathrow is the only airport in the world to support schools with adobe buildings, which provide outdoor learning space free from noise from overhead aircraft. 


This is the eighth adobe building funded and installed by Heathrow in local schools since the programme started in 2013. The seven other school recipients of adobe buildings report they are a huge success with students. Another four adobe buildings are expected to be built later this year. Ultimately, Heathrow has committed to invest almost £1.8 million in 21 adobe buildings.


Built from long tubes of soil, the eco-friendly, innovative design and shape of adobe buildings provide significant respite from noise for pupils inside, while still ensuring an airy, light atmosphere, and retaining a feeling of being outside. The buildings were originally designed as a human settlement for the Moon and Mars by a Californian architect.


Matt Gorman, Heathrow Director of Sustainability and Environment said:

“We know noise can be a challenge for outdoor learning and that we must act to reduce our impact on local communities. Our innovative adobe buildings are not only effective in reducing noise but they also are proving to be a popular feature in local schools for both pupils and teachers alike. We are happy to support our local school partners and will continue to work with them to ensure the airport becomes a better, quieter neighbour.”

Councillor Myra Savin, Deputy Leader of Hounslow Council, said:

“It was lovely to meet the children and staff at St Michael and St Martin Catholic Primary School and be associated with this fantastic project. I am sure that the children and staff will benefit greatly from the adobe buildings and enjoy outdoor learning.”

Jared Bell, teacher at St. Michael and St. Martin Catholic Primary School said:

"We are extremely grateful to Heathrow who have funded this project and to Small Earth for the professional construction of this new development. We are excited about the benefits the building will provide and the wide range of diverse learning experiences it will create for our children. It will unleash a complete new learning environment with the benefits of teaching in a space which is eco-friendly and free from aircraft noise."

Adobe buildings complement the noise insulation Heathrow has already provided for 42 community buildings and schools since 2005. Through the Community Building Noise Insulation Scheme, Heathrow has contributed more than £4.8 million to make noise-insulating modifications such as double-glazing, replacement windows.



About Adobe buildings


Adobe buildings are an invention of Californian architect Nader Khalili developed in 1984 in response to a NASA call for designs for human settlements on the Moon and Mars. They are often used to provide emergency shelters but the benefits have spread further afield.


Small Earth, which make the Heathrow adobes, have been building homes, community buildings and playgrounds both in the UK and around the world since 2004. Using a construction system known as ‘Superadobe’, long tubes of woven polypropylene are filled with soil, laid into shape and then compacted.


We are offering local primary schools grants of up to £85,000 to install an adobe building in their grounds. The offer is open to primary schools that fall within the eligible area for the community buildings scheme.


Applicants must complete an adobe grant application form, after which we arrange a visit to assess the site and answer any questions.


Adobe buildings have been installed in:


  •         Alexandra Primary School
  •         Bedfont Primary School
  •         Grove Road Primary School
  •         Pippins Primary School
  •         Smallberry Primary School
  •         Hounslow Heath Infants and Nursery
  •         Cranford Infant and Primary School



About the Community Building Noise Insulation Scheme

The Community Building Noise Insulation Scheme was launched in August 2005 following public consultation in response to the 2003 Government White Paper, The Future of Air Transport (Dec 2003). A communit-led body was appointed in 2006 as an independent and impartial body to oversee the prioritisation and implementation of the scheme.