Asilong Christian High School
Project site: Greenfield (Previously undeveloped land)
Building program type(s): Education – K-12 School
This is the story of a community imagining a different future for itself, beginning with seeking peace in the region through access to clean water and then enhancing educational opportunities for the primary school graduates. Because of its remote location in northwest Kenya and within a community of subsistence farmers and pastoralists, true sustainability has been the driver for each design decision, including design integration of a severe environment, an engaged community, and local economics. The project is a high school campus that will educate 320 students upon full buildout. Structures accommodate classrooms, offices, dormitories, and teacher housing at its core. The local conditions are harsh by any standard: drastic seasonal swings between dry seasons with harsh equatorial sun and wet seasons with pronounced rainstorms that erode the dry, sparsely planted land with no connection to a municipal water or power system. Design constraints and opportunities are dictated by the place: zero net energy, zero net water, emphasis on regional materials and local labor, and community engagement to ensure generational success. Strategies driven by an integrated triple-bottom-line philosophy include:
- Respect the beauty of place and people by providing design that is simple, durable, and of its place.
- Design initial buildings that are flexible in use (classrooms or offices or sleeping rooms).
- Use familiar materials, but with enhanced construction detailing and techniques.
- Acknowledge extreme climate by providing an abundance of shaded areas, increasing educational space available for overflow.
- Capture rainwater in rainy seasons for daily needs.
- Encourage capacity for local laborers to learn new skills and improve their economic situation (on-site brickmaking, cast-in-place concrete, crafting of wicker screens).
- Provide teacher housing that attracts the best teachers in the region.
- Integrate original community needs for water, education, and health.