Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Different Sort of Architecture

The Nueva Esperanza School, which was completed in 2009, attempts to live up to its name—new hope in Spanish—by providing a much-needed one-room schoolhouse for a coastal Ecuadorian community. Simple materials (including locally sourced wood, dried palm fronds, and a minimum of purchased hardware) went into the 387-square-foot thatched-roof building, designed by David Barragán and Pascual Gangotena of Quito-based al bordE arquitectos, who were commissioned by one of the school’s teachers, and donated their services. Construction was a team effort: Members of the community assisted a team of volunteers and al bordE staffers to finish the building’s hexagonal base, walls, roof, and furnishings.

Nueva Esperanza School al bordE Arquitectos (Architectural Record)

During the ten week project, the three students designed and built the structure using only local materials and no electricity. A mutually beneficial relationship developed between the architects and Niafourang community as the two parties taught each other their skills in design and construction, leaving the students ‘inspired’ by their time in the village.

Compressed sand sourced from a nearby ditch formed the bricks used in construction, hand-pressed in a local machine and stacked with a little cement. A neighbouring village welded the steel brackets holding a corrugated aluminium roof in place, raised slightly to allow for natural ventilation and extended to create a second floor reached by an external ladder.

Every element of this design/build project is highly sustainable, from the incorporation of locally-produced building materials to the teaching of new skills to community members and development of an education space to allow the village’s youth to prosper. This modest scheme is not only inspiring to those involved.

Project Niafourang Youth Club, Niafourang, Senegal (World Architecture News)

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