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Green future of furniture made from crisp packets

WASHING-UP liquid bottle-tops and empty crisp packets might seem more useful for a Blue Peter project than for building classroom furniture.

But these household objects will be the main ingredients for desks and work surfaces at a pair of futuristic school buildings in Telford.

Wrockwardine Wood junior and Lord Silkin secondary are among 32 schools developing tomorrow's classrooms with funding from the Department for Education and Skills' "Classroom of the Future" project.

Twelve education authorities are sharing pound;10 million to construct imaginative schoolrooms, which must be complete by April. Like many schemes, the design for Wrockwardine's classroom began in brainstorming sessions between architects and pupils.

The design team rejected some of the children's ideas for a futuristic classroom - including sci-fi-style flashing lights and a space-ship shape.

However, many of their suggestions were used, such as their request for chairs that could be adjusted to suit different heights.

The pupils also wanted a classroom that was environmentally-friendly. So when the building is completed later this term it will be equipped with wind turbines and solar power, as well as a roof covered with sedum, a succulent plant.

The storage cupboards will be made from recycled crisp packets, while the desk-tops and work surfaces will be melted-together washing-up liquid bottle-tops.

Richard Woolland of the Counties Furniture Group said that the prototype desks had unexpected benefits. "The children like them because they are colourful and environmentally-friendly," he said. "But we've also found that the surfaces are so busy with colour that you cannot write legible graffiti on them - and chewing gum will not stick to the plastic."

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