On a 1.25 hectares site in Mangapwani, a fishermen village of Zanzibar, the goal was to create a school and orphanages campus for 240 students and 60 orphans.
The realization, due to contrasting interests between the clients of the project, reached only the fence’s construction.
The plot is a pristine natural land with centuries old fruit trees. That’s why we envision a
space where the role of the nature is maximized. One of the most important aspects of the project is to respect the area by using sustainable and local materials and to reduce the consume of grey energy and future energy demand.
As a response to the site and to the position of the trees, the project proposes two different buildings located in the sides of the area.
One of these is the dormitory, designed as a protected space. The aim is to build a unique home for 60 children in order to help them to build their own community, creating the opportunity to belong to a group. The other big building is the school with 3 classrooms for the kindergarten and 7 classrooms for the primary school. In the middle of the area is placed the dining hall. It serves the school and the dormitory offering a place where people can stay together in the middle of the big park.
The philosophy of the construction is to involve the local craftsmanship and the local economies sharing new construction methods. The challenge of limited resources becomes an opportunity to create an innovative and essential design.
The constructive aim is to create a microclimate that allows to improve the well-being and reduce the consume of energy. The idea is to place a massive structure with a high thermal mass direct in contact with the ground and protected from solar overheating. For this reason the massive part is surrounded by a light wooden platform detached from the ground. This system allows to reduce the amount of excavation, to clearly define the circulation and to create shading. A metal sheet roof follows and covers the platform, guaranteeing shadows and protecting the massive part from overheating.
In Tanzania it is easier to build sustainably than in Europe. The climate does not require the use of insulation and high-performance windows, the availability of materials is low, so the use of natural and local resources is the most economical solution.
Handcraft is much more present here, there are few standardized products and this stimulates the creativity of us architects, promoting the exchange with local and traditional techniques. The labour has a price proportionally lower than the cost of the material, this increases the optimization of resources and as a consequence it reduces waste.
The architectural choices that led to the design of the entire project derive from an evaluation of two factors: sustainability and economy.
All the project is characterized by essentiality, a constant process of reducing the shapes and materials involved, in order to convey clarity and simplicity and at the same time to reduce the costs. The construction technique helps to fulfil the idea of the master plan: the architecture must dialogue with the place in order to create harmony between human and nature.
The materials chosen are as natural as possible, local and with minimal grey energy.
In Zanzibar the typical material for the foundations are the coral stones, a composition of hard minerals, derived from the erosion of the water. The stone used must be a rough, hard variety laid in a 1:3 sand/cement mortar.
The fence is made of hydraform bricks, interlocking stabilised soil cement blocks, made using a mixture of soil, water and cement hydraulically compressed with a specific machine on the building site. These bricks do not require the use of mortar because it has depressions in it that can be interlocked together. The blocks interlock top to bottom and front to back.
In order to maximize the role of the nature the wall is not full so that it blurs the border between the inside and outside spaces, reducing the number of bricks and increasing natural ventilation. This makes the spaces between the building and the fence more interesting, allowing to place the buildings in the sides of the area.
Important in the project is to show the materials for what they are, both avoiding claddings and paints, allowing natural ranges of colours and decreasing the costs.
The project is linked and compared with local architecture, in order to integrate it in the culture of Zanzibar and to take advantage of the traditional construction knowledge.