SHoP designs schools for earthquake-ravaged areas of Nepal

SHoP Architects has partnered with two nonprofit organisations to rebuild 50 public schools in areas of Nepal that were devastated by the April 2015 earthquake (+ slideshow).

The New York-based firm has teamed up with Kids of Kathmandu and Asia Friendship Network for the project, with construction of the first two schools slated to begin early next year.

SHoP and Kids in Kathmandu Rebuild 50 public schools

The firm has conceived two flexible prototypes that can be adapted to different site conditions and available resources.

"The structures are designed to ensure easy assembly with a limited kit of parts comprised of materials readily available in the affected regions," said the firm.

SHoP and Kids in Kathmandu Rebuild 50 public schools

"The hope is that this approach will provide a model for non-governmental organisations to build safe and responsible full-service schools in other communities in the future."

The designs will also be shared online to help other groups and communities build schools without needing to pay for architectural and engineering planning, according to the firm.

SHoP and Kids in Kathmandu Rebuild 50 public schools

"These new schools will not only replace lost schools, they will raise the bar for public education in remote regions of Nepal," the firm added.

The earthquake, which occurred on 25 April, killed more than 9,000 people and injured 23,000.

SHoP and Kids in Kathmandu Rebuild 50 public schools

"We were all struck by the news of the Nepal earthquake, but we didn't know how we could help," said SHoP principal Kim Holden. "When Kids of Kathmandu approached us, we were enthralled and immediately began to brainstorm possible design solutions."

The two designs both feature concrete-slab foundations, a steel truss roof system and brick facades. One is single storey and is intended for primary schools, while the other has two levels and is intended for secondary schools.

Both feature walls made of locally sourced earth bricks – a strategy that saves on transportation costs. In some cases, the schools will be constructed in remote areas that can only be reached by canoe, the firm said.

SHoP and Kids in Kathmandu Rebuild 50 public schools

Using locally made bricks also engages the community in the building process, and ensures the buildings are better able to endure an earthquake.

"Compressed earth bricks, once cured, have the compressive strength of standard kiln-fired masonry bricks," said the firm. "This structural system creates a much more robust building solution than the predecessor schools that were lost in the quake."

SHoP and Kids in Kathmandu Rebuild 50 public schools

"The new primary and secondary school buildings are designed from the ground up to survive future quakes intact," added the architects.

In addition to load-bearing brick walls, the two-storey version will also have columns made of reinforced concrete.

Large slanted roofs will shield the buildings from sun and rain.

"Sheltered spaces for gathering are created by the broad overhangs of the angled roof, and all exterior walls are left purposefully smooth and blank to encourage the vibrant local tradition of mural art," said the firm.

SHoP and Kids in Kathmandu Rebuild 50 public schools

Inside, the classrooms are designed to be filled with light and fresh air. Built-in storage units will maximise space, and the firm intends to use materials that dampen noise and minimise distractions.

Each school will contain a purpose-built library and kitchen and will be equipped with solar panels, water purification systems, wireless internet and donated computers.

"These schools will serve as community centres, making their resources available after-hours, and even in some cases providing electricity and clean water to their respective villages," said SHoP. "The schools are also designed to serve as safe havens in the event of another emergency."

SHoP and Kids in Kathmandu Rebuild 50 public schools
Some of the 50 schools will be constructed in remote areas that can only be reached by canoe. Photograph courtesy of Kids of Kathmandu

The schools will be constructed with the help of various international partners, led by Nepali staff.

The Asia Friendship Network will oversee and manage construction of the 50 new schools and will serve as a liaison between the construction teams and government officials. It has built over 80 schools in Nepal in the past 16 years.

Arc Himalaya, a local firm, will serve as the architect of record for each site.

Renderings are by SHoP Architects.

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Concept diagram one  – click for larger image
SHoP and Kids in Kathmandu Rebuild 50 public schools
Concept diagram two – click for larger image