A Visit to the Green School and Green Village, Bali

bali

Partner-in-Crime and I have had the Green School on the brain for some time now. Since seeing John Hardy’s Ted Talk about the unique school – focused on the natural environment, constructed of bamboo, and nestled in the woods of Bali – we’ve harbored a little fantasy about packing up our lives and sending Hushpuppy there for a year or so. It’s mostly fantasy, but as we happened to be in Bali for a holiday, we thought we’d at least have a look. To really make a go of it, we opted to combine our Green School tour with tours of the affiliated Green Village and Bamboo Factory.

I thought I’d find out about a school. What I truly came away with was a new appreciation for the wonder of bamboo construction and beautiful design.

The Green School

The day began at the Green School on a tour with around 25 other curious travelers from all over the world. Students were on term break, so we didn’t see them interacting with the space. The upside of this was that we could take as many photos as we wanted.

The school is located on a sprawling and rustic campus, the buildings and structures made almost entirely of bamboo. Here’s what the Green School has to say about itself:

“Imagine this, a school without walls, a campus which ignites the senses and the natural curiosity of children, a place where innovation, creativity and learning flourish, a community, which has come together from all corners of the globe to share new experiences, a place of joy.”

So, we set off to see.

The youngest “early years” children have an area near the entrance that doesn’t require too much uphill hiking, and looked open to allow for a lot of play. It’s not too far from a duck pond, as well!Green School

Green School

We then saw the mud pit, where students and teachers both get immersed, as a way of getting closer to nature. Our guide told us it would be in use later that day, as part of new teacher training.Green School

We hiked down stone stairs and dirt paths through the campus, including stops at the yoga studio and full cycle garden patch/fish ponds.

Green School

Yoga studio

One of the most iconic structures on the Green School campus is the bamboo bridge over the river. The whole group stood on it, as we learned about its construction (this is the second bridge, as engineering mistakes were made on the first version). To prove the bridge’s worthiness, our guide invited us all to simultaneously jump. It survived us. Green School

Green School

He also pointed out the swimming pool, which features a rock climbing wall that some students designed and constructed as a class project.

We saw a larger vegetable garden, the compost area, and the “microhydro vortex,” which is a project that is still in the works, and aims to provide a large amount of renewable energy to the school.Green School

Green School

Finally, we climbed a fair number of steps to arrive at the main school building, a jaw-dropping structure that must be a marvel to enter everyday. Everything from the structure to the chairs and bookshelves is made of bamboo, and the creativity of the design is beyond anything I’ve seen. Certainly a more inspiring learning environment than the grey cinder blocks I spent most of my education between! Green School

Green School

Green School

The Green School has been open for 8 years, and its curriculum was designed by the school’s founders. My understanding is that it is both academically rigorous, but also involves a lot of student designed project work, which much meet criteria, including considering nature, wellness, sustainability and economics. All school parents are expected to be part of the school community, as well.

One drawback I noticed was that it would not be at all accessible for students with physical disabilities (I asked our guide about it and he agreed that he didn’t know of any students with physical disabilities). Someone else asked about accreditation, and they have not yet achieved accreditation by recognized boards, so students leaving for university have to use more creative means, like portfolios, to gain admission to their chosen schools.

It’s also cost prohibitive for most Indonesian students, and though their mission was to have 20% of the school population be local students on scholarship, they haven’t raised enough money to do that, so currently only have an 8% local population. Our guide said that they do have other outreach programs to work with local students and the community outside of school hours, as well.

After seeing the school, I was awed, but I wasn’t just racing to get an application to send Hushpuppy there. I think it’s more of a lifestyle for the whole family, and one we’d have to fully consider. But, I do think it’s a pretty stunning and visionary place to be. It seems like they still have some kinks to work out, which makes sense as this grand scale project is really quite young. Still, the lessons from this school must last long beyond a school year.

(Oh, and because I know you’re dying to know…) Green School

The Green Village

From the Green School, a smaller group of us took a short drive to the Green Village, a community of houses built using the same architectural principles as the Green School’s bamboo structures.

The houses are various sizes, and are rented out on a per night basis, though at least one house pointed out by our guide had been rented for the year by a family whose four children are attending the Green School.

We learned about the four different types of bamboo used for construction, all based on their size and strength. Foundations are laid with concrete for permanent structures.

The bamboo is grown by farmers in the north part of Bali who had land that wasn’t ideal for other crops. They Hardy family gave them bamboo shoots for free, if they agreed to farm it, and then sell the grown crop back. They use bamboo that has been growing for 3 – 5 years, and that short growing time means that it’s a very sustainable plant to use for construction – a pretty fascinating thing to ponder, especially when you think how long trees take to grow.

We toured two houses. The small house was around the size of a hotel room. I love the teardrop door. It opens from the middle.Green Village

The large house had three bedrooms, a kitchen, and even a massage room, all spread out over several levels. How great would it be to round up a few friends and camp out here for awhile?Green Village

The kitchen was my favorite – wide open and just so lush. Hushpuppy found a “tree house,” too.

Green Village

After the tour, we had an Indonesian lunch  in the community area, and Hushpuppy struck up a quick friendship, piling up stones with a couple of French children at the pool. While we were there, Elora Hardy – the designer and daughter of the Green School founders – came up to one of the other women in our group to apologize for the hard time she had booking the tour – I didn’t realize who she was until afterwards, but she did seem very nice!

The Bamboo Factory 

The final stop on our tour was the bamboo factory where they process the stalks, and make prototypes for projects like furniture (and go-carts, apparently!).Bamboo Factory

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about bamboo production is that up until a few years ago, bamboo construction was not considered feasible, and only very poor people built houses with it because inevitable bug infestation meant that the poles would lose their integrity after just a couple of years. However, they’ve developed a system of treating the bamboo with a borax/boric acid solution, which has solved the insect problem.

We saw how they choose different pieces for projects including flooring, furniture, and fixtures. We heard many times throughout the day about how “the boss” (John Hardy, I assume) hates using glue, but that it’s occasionally a necessary evil (both because it’s not natural and it’s quite costly) – a concern they still have to solve.

We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the bamboo factory, but based on the enthusiasm of our guide, it seems like they take a lot of pride in working with this material and creating beautiful, usable homes and furnishings.

Bamboo. Who knew? The stuff of dreams, and maybe even our homes of the future.

More on the Green School vision on John Hardy’s Ted Talk: 

And, more on the Green Village design on Elora Hardy’s Ted Talk:


If you go:

Tours can be booked separately or as a package for the Green School, Green Village, and Bamboo Factory.
Website: Green School Tours 
LocationLocation Map (approximately 20 minutes north of Denpasar or 15 minutes south of Ubud)
Phone: +62 361 469 875
Transport: You will need a driver to transport you between locations, if you are not self-driving. Or, pre-book a driver from the Green School for around $2.50 USD per person (call first).
Clothing: Wear comfortable walking shoes. There is significant climbing of stairs at both Green School and Green Village, and may not be accessible for guests with mobility issues. 
Children were welcome. Under age 6 are free.
Food is available at the Green Village. Water bottles may be refilled at the Green School and light snacks are provided after the tour.

16 thoughts on “A Visit to the Green School and Green Village, Bali

  1. christie

    This is just amazing!! thank you so much for this post I am going to look into the green school some more 🙂 It is very intriguing!! I would love to send my kids there, don’t know how hubby would feel about up rooting our family to bali though!!

    1. Cristin Post author

      It’s definitely a life decision, though I suppose there are worse places to uproot your life to! I wish there were more schools like this around the world.

  2. Shari from GoodFoodWeek

    Gosh – what an amazing experience. It would be wonderful to be able to truly amerce yourself into this lifestyle for a while {especially teaching your children that there is more to life then what they see at home}.

    1. Cristin Post author

      Yes! I came away thinking that even a year at this school would probably change the way kids think forever, which is pretty powerful.

  3. Lauren

    Looks amazing! What a unique school. I don’t know how I would cope teaching there though – I like the 4 walls and structure of my classroom and school.

  4. Helen K

    How fascinating! That would be an amazing environment to live in for a while – and how good to hear they are able to build more sustainably (both from a cost and environmental point of view). Really interesting. Curious now about the school itself – i’ll have to watch the Ted talk 🙂

  5. Jacq Writes World

    This place looks majestic! I am at a loss for words and just in awe at what they’ve done. It is sustainable and teaches the younger generation to think outside the box. At present, kids are encouraged to embrace digital gadgets but this opportunity provides nature play and imaginative thinking which I think is more beneficial in the long run.

    1. Cristin Post author

      It really does have a special feeling about it (wish we could have seen the kids using the space!). Our guide did say that he thought they probably needed to engage a little more with technology to keep up, but I agree that kids are really missing out on engaging with the natural world, and it’s so necessary for them.

  6. waseem akram

    Never saw so much stuff made of bamboo in one place. Excellant use of bamboo and some remarkable engineering. Also, never have I seen a bamboo quad bike before. I hope more people jump on the going green bandwagon and build bamboo structures like these. Really contributes towards sustainable development.

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