In 2016, a group of five Hungarian architects took on a sustainable school development project in Koforidua, Ghana.
The project saw them redesign and begin construction of a new school building for the local children, in close collaboration with the school’s management. This was a much needed intervention as the existing school had fallen into disrepair due to a lack of funds and also suffered from overcrowding. There design tackles these issues by being low-cost, using local materials and responding to the region’s climate. They’ve successfully completed the first phase of their 3-phase plan and are currently raising funds through a ‘generosity campaign’ to complete the project. Here’s their story;
[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he story of Newill Academy started in 2010 when Mr. William Newman, a Ghanaian teacher founded a nursery in an empty storage building next to his mother’s house in Koforidua. His aim was to provide quality daycare and education for children who suffer social disadvantage in the area, mainly the children of the market sellers and street vendors who can’t afford to stay at home with them. As the children grew, the academy grew together with them, starting primary classes. The school works on a non-profit basis, the students pay a minimal fee which just covers the teacher’s salary, transportation by the school bus and one meal per day.
Although the founder and headmaster of the school along with the board of teachers are working hard to provide their best for the pupils, in lack of proper financial background the academy is facing various challenges. First of all, it is overcrowded, the infrastructure is not sufficient enough for the amount of students. The children are keen on studying but instead of classrooms they are staying in temporary shelter-like structures exposed to the various weather conditions. Sanitary facilities also need improvement.
A group of European architects in close cooperation with the local management have revised the plans in 2016 and started the construction works of the low-cost school building in summer 2016. Two more building phases should follow in the next years to complete the academy which provides comfortable and suitable room for the 240 pupils.
In order to keep building costs and future maintenance low, locally available materials, handmade structures, passive ventilation and a rainwater harvesting system are included. The bricks are handmade, produced on site by volunteers. Interior elements and parts of the facade are made of bamboo, harvested in the nearby forest. The elevated roof functions as a solar chimney, creating natural air movement when warmed up by the sun.
The kind support of many individuals during round 1 in 2016 helped us to complete two classrooms and a sanitary block and to raise the walls of two additional classrooms of Newill Academy during the summer holiday in August 2016. These semi-finished classrooms are already in use during the 2016/17 school year, providing better environment for studying.
Meanwhile the project was awarded by the Media Architecture Prize 2016, one of the most significant prizes of contemporary architecture in Hungary.
This year during the school holiday in August we are planning to continue the work with finishing the first floor slab and three classroom plus a library room on the first floor.
Your kind donations will all go towards the development of Newill Academy, buying building materials and covering the salary of the local workers. Most of the work is to be done by our volunteers. Be the part of the change! You can choose to support us anonymously but we would be glad to reward your generosity and keep in touch with you if you choose one of the available perks.