There is considerable effort to design and construct a prototype school in eastern Sierra Leone. The design will then be rolled out to 20 more locations over the region in the first three years and thereafter delivered in up to 60 locations in the next five years. Companies like Foster + Partners, one of the UK’s leading architectural firms, and engineers Buro Happold, to assist with this. Each school will accommodate up to 300 students, which means this project can ultimately make education available to 18,000 children.
The project’s key aim is to improve on the current school design standards by making the educational buildings more child-friendly, improving on classroom design and generating a better educational experience for the students.
The prototype school has been designed to follow key principles of sustainability and respond to local climatic conditions. Large openings and a roof lantern will provide natural ventilation and improved natural lighting. Local bush sticks have been appropriated to create shading and protection from rain.
Great consideration has been given to the use of locally available materials generally, some of which can be foraged and collected by the local community. Local “bush poles” will be load tested on site and assembled to form the roof truss whilst soil on the site will be compressed to form Interlocking Soil Stabilized Blocks to build walls and foundations.
The prototype school will additionally improve the scope of education services, a new wider plan will provide a more flexible of classroom layout, allowing teachers access to each pupil’s desk in great contrast to the current model of “teaching by rote” where teachers are confined to the blackboard.
Lord Norman Foster has said: ‘The project to design a school for Sierra Leone has been an exciting design challenge... Our approach seeks to achieve the most with the least, using indigenous techniques and materials to create a prototype for a modern, flexible school building that is uplifting and inspiring to use.’
The school design was developed from research into the following: