We thought of this project watching the environment, the sun, the marks of the rain, the wind and the children. In Guiné-Bissau the architecture is made up of two parts, inner space and outer space with transitional space codes. To embrace the necessity of a fence, the design likens itself to an armadillo: it curls in on itself, protecting its soft underbelly with a hard shell.
The design integrates the boundary condition with the buildings and landscape, creating zones of different scales for various activities as it unfurls. At the heart of the ECD center lie communal programs: a semi-outdoor dining space and a paved play area. These communal spaces are angled to open up to views of the natural conservation zone. The school is a product of a two year process orchestrated by Cornell University Sustainable Design, an interdisciplinary student-led organization at Cornell University. Students, with the help of academic advisors and industry professionals, executed the project through a semester of research, a semester of design development integrated into the Bachelor of Architecture comprehensive design studio curriculum, and three months of construction.
Students collaborated with local partners in construction and education to refine the design. Over thirty student volunteers traveled to South Africa to construct the school alongside local laborers from the surrounding neighborhood, Cosmo City. Strong emphasis is placed on sustainable passive sustainable technologies to decrease cost and energy dependency. Conscientious decisions in resiliency are found in all dimensions of the project: the architectural design, construction methods, material production and purchasing, included facilities, project financing, and day-to-day operations. (A year after construction, the ECD center was still not connected to the grid.
The teachers, however, were not worried: they explained that these passive technologies create a bright, warm, and efficacious school without the use of electricity.)This project was completed with generous support from Cornell University, in partnership with Education Africa, Play-With-A-Purpose, Basil Read Developments, and the City of Johannesburg.
Client: City of Johannesburg
Building Area: N/A
Address: Cosmo City, Johannesburg