School 4 Burma Competition

, Subject : Design, Recognition

Roots have teamed up with Structural Engineer Richard Campbell, Environmental Engineer Callum Rae and Graphic Designer Ben Kirkpatrick to produce an entry to a Building Trust International (BTI) Competition to design a school for Burmese refugees.

According to UNHCR statistics, South East Asia is host to 37% of the world’s refugees, with Burma seeing 406,669 people displaced from its borders.  Many of these people continue to find themselves in neighbouring Bangladesh and Thailand.  With a great many of these people being children, there is a massive need for educational facilities.

BTI is hoping to help provide these facilities.  The School 4 Burma Competition has therefore been conceived as a way to encourage school design ideas and to raise awareness of the refugee issue.

Micheal, of Roots commented, ‘We felt this was a very worth-while project and the brief emphasised the use of local skills, materials and construction techniques.  This gave us confidence that this school will be of real benefit to local people.’

A key element to the brief was that the schools had to consider the movement of these people, and that the buildings might have to be taken with them, or built afresh each time they were able to settle.

Richard explained the Team’s response to this, ‘The structure was designed to maximise the pre-fabrication of components to create a ‘kit of parts’ – where pre-notching and pre-drilling of elements and bolted connections allow for ease of construction, de-construction and re-assembly’

Chris, of Roots, said of the design, ‘When combined the structural components created a simple regular form representative and respectful of the locality’s culture, environment and materials.  The idea of simplicity was reinforced by the clear expression of each structural and building element and the use of a minimal pallet of materials.  The materials selected were either low maintenance and long lasting or easy to repair and replace in the locality, and repeated those used in the secular architecture of the region – creating a degree of familiarity in the design.’

Callum explained the environmental approach, ‘The main idea behind the environmental strategy was the combination of vernacular/traditional systems and techniques with simple and readily available technologies.  The aim was to enable increased self-sufficiency and to maximise the level and quantity of educational activities that it could offer.’

The Team’s full design submission can be viewed by downloading the pdf through the following link.

While the Team didn’t win the competition, their entry was ‘long listed’ in the top 70 (out of 800+ entrants), and was highlighted by the Judges as being one of the best designs.  The Team also thoroughly enjoyed the process of collaborating on such a worthwhile project.  Some of the other entries to the competition can be seen on the BTI website (external site).

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