News and Multimedia on Sustainable Construction

ARTICLE

Low-cost school and home for HIV orphans, Rakai, Uganda

The first series of eight buildings are now completed including residential space for 50 orphans and a primary school catering to around 200 children. The project to build a school and home for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS has been built on a tiny budget of USD 30,000. The first eight rectangular units have now been completed on a rural site without water or power, and form the nucleus of a small community.

The project is environmentally and socially sustainable while maintaining an innovative approach to space making. The architect used a rule-based approach to yield the spatial organization of the community, which comprises residential space for 50 orphans and a primary school catering to around 200 children.

The simple freestanding rectangular structures are simple to set out and erect using basic equipment and unskilled labor. The eight basic hut structures provide two sleeping spaces, three lecture halls, two offices and a bathroom – arranged in a ragged circle around the spreading foliage of a “teaching tree”, under which students can gather and take classes. Canopies link the triangular spaces between structures, creating a continuously-roofed outdoor space. The courtyard, with its tree and well, serve as a practical and symbolic heart of the community.

The walls are made of unfinished masonry, and support simple tin roofs on timber trusses. All materials are sourced locally and are easy to erect. Rainwater is collected from the roofs in cisterns; solar panels are used to generate power for lighting and computers. The children participate in growing food, providing the basis of a self-sufficient community.

Last Updated: May 23, 2011
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Rakai, Uganda Rakai, Uganda
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