|Name:||Rahat Ibna Hasan and Md Jahin Ahmed|
|Location:||Pratapnagar, Assasuni, Sathkhira|
|Client:||Ankur Foundation (অংকুর ফাউন্ডেশন)|
It was May 2020, the world kept quiet for covid19 pandemic. Suddenly a black veil named Amphan swept over the coastal area of Bangladesh. The roar of the super cyclone broke the silence and shattered the lives of people living in the area. Houses and schools have been torn apart; farms have been filled with brackish water making the land unsuitable for farming. The corps will grow again, the houses will be built as well but what about the dream of thousands of school-going children living in this area?
Pratapnagar, a village of Assasuni, Sathkhira, is one of the hundreds of Amphan-affected villages. The disaster had a harsh impact on the children of Pratapnagar. As they lost their homes and saw their only primary school destroyed in the storm. This created a deep impression on their mental health. So it was necessary to recover from the catastrophe and get back to normal life soon. The local community identified the necessity for a new school building to help the children retrieve the awful memories. ‘School of Hope’ is the reflection of this initiative.
Children of Pratapnagar went through transitions over time. Before Amphan they used to attend classes in enclosed separate classrooms. After the disaster, they moved together under the open sky. Therefore, these transitions are translated into the newly designed mass. Besides, it gives the essence of ‘Pathsala’- a primitive open-air institution with a temporary shading over it. The perforations and openness of the facade ensure visibility and transparency, allowing the children to interact with the surrounding environment while still being protected from nature.
The 62’X22’ built structure is placed along the neighbourhood in a way to have enough space for assembly and playing space in the front yard including future extension. Classrooms are placed in a linear arrangement and are separated through a common space based on children’s psychology and age. The common space alternately acts as an open classroom, a space for interaction and playzone, and a space for parents to wait.
A single-sloped roof houses all the classes and the common space altogether. The roof is pulled away from the learning space to ensure proper lighting and ventilation. Besides the perforations of the modular panels, there is no need for electricity during the class. An elevated roof and the common space between the inner masses allow storm winds to pass by without damaging the structure.
Design consideration adopted the total masterplan of the site with a phase-wise development. The finished building mass is the implementation of the first phase of development with limited funds. With more funds, the school can grow substantially to accommodate more students over the course of time.
The initial phase was completed in 2021 and started serving the children since then facing cyclone YAAS. It became impossible to accommodate some of the design interventions due to a lack of funds. For instance, there was an operable shading for driving rain. But considering the urge to start classes in a short time, these features couldn’t be incorporated. Though facing some rainwater issues, the school is functioning regularly. Initially, the school was designed for an extended capacity of 90 students. But students are increasing at a good rate day by day which shows the local interest in the new school building.
As natural disasters are common in the region, modular units could be a useful choice because they are easy to maintain and replace. The module’s main components are bamboo, pata and wood which are inexpensive and widely used by the locals. Observations and simulations from a BUET research team were extremely useful in this effort. Considering all the facts and restraints, the final construction started with a limited budget of 2900 USD. After only six weeks of construction, the finished building unites a durable and cyclone-resistant structure made of local materials. It ensures a low-cost, strong, and well-ventilated learning space for the children.
The objective was to build a low-cost lightweight structure with locally sourced materials that could ensure durability and strength. The space is covered with a lightweight roof made of corrugated sheets and a woven ceiling of Chatai beneath it. Chatai keeps the area cool and its colour and texture provide a homogeneous ambient to the space. Bamboo, wood, and Pata are cheap, abundantly available and are being used regularly in this region. So, bamboo is used for the main structure with the support of a short composite column in the base to stand still against the catastrophe. The fenestration consists of a wooden panel and a perforated material called ‘Pata’, locally used in dams and gher. The perforations and openness of the facades ensure visibility and transparency which connects the children to the adjacent environment.
The construction began in early March and lasted until mid-April. Local building techniques and modern engineering methods were combined for best quality construction to facilitate construction and future maintenance. The procedure included the building of the composite bamboo framework, modular facade preparation, roof construction, and module installation. Much of the detailing happened simultaneously with the project construction and gained experience and knowledge. Local artisans with knowledge of working with indigenous materials were involved throughout the construction.
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