The project focused on taking a participatory approach. It started with design workshops with parents and children and extended to training local youth on appropriate building techniques. The project was built out of more than 9,000 reused plastic bottles filled with sand. The village children and youth, and young students from Cairo universities filled the bottles in weekly workshops held during the building process.
Locally sourced compressed earth blocks were used as columns, local bamboo as a roof, and natural clay in plastering and floor. Broken concrete from a demolished clinic nearby and reused sandstones were materials incorporated into foundations. Doors and windows were also refurbished from old buildings and upcycled wood pallets became desks and benches for classroom furniture. Lastly, an anaerobic baffled reactor (ABR) unit was installed to recycle wastewater for landscaping. Introducing such alternative materials and techniques shifted the community’s perspective and raised their awareness of the impacts of the built environment on their health and the planet, resulting in requests for such techniques to be used in their homes.
Project status: Completed (constructed January - June 2022).
The jury concurred that this project exhibits a remarkable level of uniqueness. While its size may be modest, the diverse array of components it incorporates is truly unparalleled. The jury notably recognized the project’s ingenious approach of achieving both aesthetics and environmental responsibility by minimizing CO2 emissions through the use of recycled materials. This strategic choice is particularly praiseworthy as it addresses a significant environmental concern. The jury emphasized that such an innovative construction stands as a worthy alternative to the conventional concrete-based institutional infrastructure prevalent in the region. The structural envelope was considered as an elegant and effective solution, with meticulous construction detailing creating a harmonious spatial experience. The jury particularly appreciated the incorporation of cultural design motifs on the walls serving as a powerful testament to the project’s ability to bridge rural and modern values within the community.
The jury also applauded the project’s attention to economic sustainability and financial viability. The architecture is simple and remarkably low cost, yet it efficiently fulfills a specific need and serves a particular role within the community. This blend of functionality and affordability was highly appreciated by the jury which commended the project for its transformative architectural and social program. Its potential to trigger substantial environmental and social impacts was widely acknowledged, positioning it as a model for sustainable design solutions that can be easily transposed to different contexts while catalyzing community engagement and growth.