Construction of two school buildings as part of this Global Holcim Awards Gold-winning project is now complete, with interior fit-out including windows, doors and floors to follow. The two classroom buildings are the first of twelve planned were in use as soon as they were built. They were in use without waiting for completion of interior fit-out – such is the demand for places. Architect Francis Kéré, originally from the village and now practicing in Berlin, has revived traditional building methods and materials which are combined with contemporary building technologies.
Francis Kéré, originally from the village and now a practicing architect in Berlin, has revived traditional building methods and materials which are combined with contemporary building technologies. The principal building material is clay: which is abundant locally. Construction is carried out entirely by people from the village and is crucial to the sustainability of the project.
In terms of construction, the secondary school, which is an additional phase of the project, displays a radical new innovation that goes beyond techniques used in Francis Kéré’s earlier projects. Clay is no longer made into individual bricks: instead, the walls of the secondary school are made by pouring the mixture of clay, gravel, and cement into a mold, producing larger sections. In this sense, clay can be cast just like concrete. The clay no longer has to be sifted – it can be used as it is when dug out of the ground, saving time and energy. Traditional material can be combined with modern materials and methods to produce a sustainable form of architecture.
Education is the starting point of development. However, in a community such as Gando, it is essential to serve the broader needs of the people. Therefore, complementary projects including a library, women’s center, new wells, a vegetable garden, and a mango tree nursery are being added.
The secondary school complex will eventually consist of twelve classrooms, teachers’ housing, offices, and a circular building (library and meeting hall). Between the classrooms, a shaded area gives pupils space to study or relax. In the style of traditional compounds, a wall will surround the secondary school, protecting it from wind, dust and sandstorms.