LOCAL SCHOOL FEATURES
Classroom extension was designed for a specific school in the area of Kavre in Central Nepal. Just like most of the others in the region, the school suffers from an acute need of spatial extension and from teacher shortage. Current average rate of students per class is between 40 and 50. Enlargement of innumerable local schools to sufficient capacity would significantly limit rural-to-urban migration.
Construction brief was formulated on the meeting with school director during our recent visit in the village. Further beyond its haecceity, it was a request on the part of the director and a local builder representative that this extension is designed to serve as a new exemplar for school development in the area. A certain level of versatility was thus taken into consideration.
Presently, the school doesn’t provide education for years 9 and 10. There are other smaller schools in the surrounding locality, but the closest one teaching those last two years is located 2 hrs on foot away from Teksing village. Of all the local schools, Antarastriya Yuba Barsais has the highest potential to be enlarged to a full primary & secondary educational institution with significant impact on the level and accessibility of education in this part of Kavre district.
PRINCIPAL DEVELOPMENT INCENTIVES
Seeing the roughness of Kavre’s geography and its remoteness, one of the main incentives of the project was to avoid construction material supply from elsewhere. The project seeks to focus on use of local resources in a maximal possible extent. In a public building, preferring vernacular materials to import, much too often fashion-prone, impracticable and inappropriate, would also raise awareness in the local community of the merits of traditional architecture.
There is no power grid in the area and scores of time, there is no water supply either. The village doesn’t have any craftsmen, everyone has to know how to build and repair his own house. These conditions were not to be neglected in the design. To achieve sustainability and affordability, we had to maximize potential of local community in participation.
Vernacular architecture in material, construction and typology was studied in the initial phase of designing. Pros and cons of traditional and attainable school constructions were considered as shown below. While conceiving vernacular building as a starting point for the concept, we tried to re-think the usual techniques to increase level in quality and occupancy comfort.
No water feeding, no power supply, insufficient fuel resources and no palpable prospect of improvement, this house could be dubbed a “zero technology school”. Sometimes things are not perceived as absent here. Schools only operate during daytime so there is no need for artificial lighting. Dry toilets or winter chill are not desirable factors at school, but there is no fast remedy for cores of local schools. Getting hardened still works the best in this part of world.
Thin concrete layer poured over stony foundation typically forms basement & floor of current school buildings. Using concrete comprehends employment of cement, which has to be imported from the city. Hewn stoned flooring laid into sand or clay bed is proposed in lieu. Currently practice of pouring concrete ring beams could be replaced with linear members made of bamboo or wood.
Stone is traditionally used for wall masonry, being commonly accessible from the nearest landslide. This can still be some few kilometers distant or some hundred meters above the construction site. The proposal thus targets reduction of volume of stone embedded.
Although not typical for Tamang conventional architecture, rammed earth along with cob walling is an old traditional way of constructing in Nepal. Rammed earth technique was preferred to cob walling due to its durability and load bearing capacity. It was introduced in the project as an alternative to stone masonry with regards to above mentioned.
Untreated rammed earth constructions are susceptible to corrosion when wet, so they were situated in rain-shielded sections of the house. Dirt is available throughout the district; its suitability, namely in reference to clay content, would be a matter of individual analysis. Where inconvenient, traditional stonework should be used.
It’s growable in the region yet not overly widespread, in land-deficient Kavre food production has hitherto been preferred. When used for construction, bamboo has many qualities, speed of growth and lightness included.
Trees grow randomly in the countryside. As well as bamboo it is used for linear structure members in family houses construction.
Reed grass was once traditional to Nepal, yet it is no more considered complying for its high flammability and short lifespan.
Traditional reed grass roofing was abandoned in the last few decades in favour of speed-mounted CI sheets. During monsoon periods, noise made by heavy rains is highly disturbing in the classrooms and often disables teaching entirely. Imported as they have to be, CI sheets still remain the most procurable roofing in the region. Prior to be laid on rafters sheets, sheets could serve as rammed earth formwork, thus leaving wall surface with an undulating memory.
Poor in iron ore, Nepal has to purchase most of its metal abroad. Steel supply then becomes vulnerable to political stability and foreign relations situation. Yet another argument against opting for steel import.
Potential of trash like used car tyres was considered, yet we found there was almost none in this traditionally rural district.