Extension of the Tipu Sultan Merkez (TSM) is currently under construction

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    Ceiling structure connection with cords: Trained craftsmen can start businesses using the new system, farmers can earn money through bamboo cultivation, economic cycles are locally-based, rural residents can generate local income by selling their products/services to the cities.

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    Project update July 2012 – Locally-manufactured cob and bamboo school building, Jar Maulwi, Pakistan

    The new school structure is not only a low-cost and energy-saving alternative to brick and concrete structures, but also shows that earthen buildings are significantly less susceptible to weather effects and more sustainable than traditional designs.

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    Classroom interior, ground level: The new classrooms measure around 40 m2, making them about 10 m2 larger than the existing ones.

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    Veranda: The construction method will support healthy living conditions by creating comfortable, safe and durable habitats.

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    Bamboo structure as top floor.

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    Mixing brick-earth.

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    Cob bricks: The addition of straw and a horizontal bracing in all corners improves the strength of the monolithic earth walls, especially in the case of an earthquake.

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    Project update July 2012 – Locally-manufactured cob and bamboo school building, Jar Maulwi, Pakistan

    Layered and modulated walls. Ground floor is built out of massive 60 cm-thick cob walls: earth is piled up on the brick foundation without using formwork, walls are left to dry, and then the excess is trimmed off with a spade until the wall is of the desired thickness.

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    Project update July 2012 – Locally-manufactured cob and bamboo school building, Jar Maulwi, Pakistan

    Corner detail of bamboo structure: The façade of the light bamboo frame construction of the second floor has an overhang to the earth walls of the ground floor. Rain running down the bamboo facade can drop down in front of the earth wall.

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    Project update July 2012 – Locally-manufactured cob and bamboo school building, Jar Maulwi, Pakistan

    Constructing the ceiling: Instead of using timber or steel beams the massive roof is fully constructed of locally grown bamboo. A damp proof course on top of the earth filling guarantees that no water comes in.

The extension of the Tipu Sultan Merkez (TSM) is currently under construction. The new school structure demonstrates the effective combination of traditional building methods, enhanced through practical and conscious application of technology. It is playing a part in creating a unique local architecture, with the potential to transfer the approach to many other regions, particularly in less-developed countries.

Last updated: July 24, 2012 Jar Maulwi, Pakistan

Traditional building technology is upgraded through clever application of technology

The school – currently being constructed – is erected by Ziegert | Roswag | Seiler Architekten Ingenieure with local craftsmen using earth and bamboo. The design continues local building traditions, and it is intended to act as an example of modern earthen architecture in Pakistan. In addition to ecological and economic criteria, social aspects such as the creation of a local identity also played an important role in the design process.

The construction of the school’s extension has been coordinated to match the capabilities of local craftsmen so that they are able to build within the local context. During implementation, the participating craftsmen are trained as specialists in the improved building system. In the long-term, Tipu Sultan Merkez (TSM) plans to expand its vocational training activities and become a contact partner in the region for construction projects using these techniques.

Building shell completed

Construction commenced in February 2011, and the first building phase of the school has already completed the building shell, and craftsmen are currently beginning the interior. The architects consider the structural extension of the school to be a further example of the current approach by sustainable architects to use a greater proportion of local and natural materials. Ziegert | Roswag | Seiler Architekten Ingenieure has already received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for a school project in Bangladesh. In Mozambique they were able to implement eleven schools in a village setting together with the Aga Khan Foundation. They are currently planning a cultural center in Ghana, and they are also planning and implementing a health center in Ethiopia.

Continued progress

In June 2012 (after a couple of difficulties to get lime for the roof sealing and the parts for the drainage) the roof moved towards finalization and sealing in good time prior to the rainy period. The wooden windows, manufactured in Lahore, have been installed and bamboo works on the façade performed by the Pakistani team are in progress. The building is almost finished before the summer break, during the rainy period. Residual work can be implemented in autumn before the new school year begins. From then on, lessons can take place in four additional classrooms.

Symposium in Pakistan, exhibition in Germany

On November 30, 2011 the project participants discussed the applied strategy together with those involved at a symposium in Lahore, Pakistan and installed a local network for fostering natural building systems in Pakistan. The symposium was co-organized by the Institute of Architects in Pakistan (IAP), the architects and TSM with the support of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan, Verein für Entwicklung, Bildung und Selbsthilfe e.V. (vebs), and the Habitat Unit of the Technical University of Berlin.

The project also features in an exhibition at the Aedes Forum in Berlin. MACHEN! the German winners of the Holcim Awards 2011/12 features all six Holcim Awards prize-winning projects connected to German architects. Three discussions are held at the ANCB Metropolitan Laboratory to provide an overview of each project and report on progress since the initial submission in the Holcim Awards competition was prepared. The exhibition runs July 13 to August 30, 2012.

Project background 

This school project in the small village of Jar Maulwi, 35km northwest of Lahore, is an extension of the existing Tipu Sultan Merkez School, which has provided education for underprivileged rural girls for more than ten years. The new two-story building, Earthen School Tipu Sultan Merkez, constructed from locally-sourced cob and bamboo will provide seven new classrooms. Mitigating earthquake risks, the structure is divided into two compact parts connected by a light gallery. The 60 cm thick ground floor walls are made of cob, a mixture of clay, sand, straw, water and earth and supported by brickwork foundations which protect against moisture ingress from the soil or rainwater. 

The upper floor is a bamboo construction with an earthen filling. Intense research on cob construction resulted in a useful increase in strength and durability, and extended maintenance intervals compared to former methodologies. The high humidity absorption capacity and significant mass of the earth walls reduce interior temperatures by up to 8 °C during summer where temperatures exceed 40 °C. South-oriented glazing produces solar gain during winter. The local residents build the school and are thereby educated in this improved approach which creates an opportunity to establish their own local enterprise and transfer this highly appropriate construction technology to other building projects.