INCLUSION, UNDERSTANDING, INTEGRATION
Every child has the right to access safe, quality education. Children with disabilities are most often denied access to education, excluded from their communities or hidden away by their families. To challenge the prejudices behind such practice, we designed a space both for education and for the local community that can bring different people together and close any social and cultural gaps. Broadening the use of the building is also an effective way to optimize its cost-efficiency without affecting its functionality.
An embrace is a universal sign of love and affection, but sadly it is often what children with disabilities lack the most. We applied this concept to the building’s layout, creating an enclosed space encircled by the volumes along the plot’s boundaries. The courtyard at the heart of the building is the core of our design, hence the name of the project: ‘Core-yard’.
Our ‘Core-yard’ is a multi-functional and flexible semi-outdoor space that allows visual connection within the outdoor courtyard and represents the transition between the space for the adults and the space for the kids. Folding doors in both rooms directly linked to it allow a much larger space for kids’ activities, performances, community gatherings and celebrations.
The building results both ethically and physically open whilst it maintains children’s safety. We decided to avoid any conventional barrier or fence that could separate inside and outside world. The whole building’s envelope is activated: the exterior walls offer benches for the passers-by and a sequence of canopies to shelter from the rain or the sun; the main entrance of the school becomes an outdoor communal area carefully landscaped to allow visitors to stay close to their children without disrupting the school’s activities.
MODULARITY AND COST CONTROL
The building’s layout is generated by the repetition of the modular unit of a classroom (7 x 6m) along the boundaries of the plot. Different rooms are included in half a module or a full module. All the dimensions are multiple of the basic module and all the inclinations of the roofs are kept constant. A modular system simplifies the structural calculations and the construction materials supply, but most of all, it accelerates the construction itself providing mostly standardized tasks for the workers. All the materials are locally sourced and all the construction techniques in use don’t require specialized labor which allows a participatory construction process with members of the local community.
The use of pitched roofs supported by wooden columns is inspired by the local vernacular architecture. Together with the use of local materials, we create a familiar environment for the children where they can feel protected. African art is often about the repetition of simple geometrical shapes such as triangles and zig-zag lines. Often used to decorate the exterior walls of the house, we propose these shapes in certain architectural elements of the building such as the exterior shading triangular canopies.
Completed, Honorable Mention