Congo School Buildings Article 25 Africa

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Article 25 Development in Africa : Congo Schools

Climate Responsive Designed Education Buildings

‘Article 25: the built environment’s charity’

Article 25

Report by Robin Cross, Director of Projects for Article 25
Written for

7 Jul 2009

Congo School Buildings

Breaking ground at 3000 metres

Rebuilding schools using Climate Responsive Design in the high plateau region of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo Village Site, 2009:
Congo School Buildings

In June 2009 UK registered charity Article 25, in collaboration with international aid agency Children in Crisis UK (CIC) and local NGO Eben-Ezer Ministries International Democratic Republic of Congo (EMI), visited a series of sites to finalise the design for the planned reconstruction of 2 schools later this year. The initiative is part of the ongoing school reconstruction programme of CIC and EMI, in the stunning and remote landscape of the high plateau region in South Kivu, DRC. This project is an example of incorporating architectural solutions into long-term development practices.

The climate responsive designs were developed by Article 25’s team of dedicated architects who volunteered their time and skills to providing not only structurally sound schools for the villages Bijojo and Gitigarawa, but also a means of bettering the learning experience of school children in some of the most impoverished areas of Africa.

Congo School Building Community Participation, 2009
Congo School

The Article 25 team made an on-site assessment of the surrounding landscape and a participatory workshop was carried out with community members. Outcomes of the workshop included a sketch map of the surrounding area which, was drawn by the villagers themselves. Preference was given to eliciting indigenous knowledge and utilizing local community dynamics to facilitate understanding between the local communities and the Article 25 team.

The new designs help to combat the exposure to climatic elements experienced by the villages situated at heights of up to 3000 metres. The rainy season inhibited school children from attending their classes as the rains pelted into the classrooms themselves and poured through the leaky roofs. The new designs have incorporated simple and cost-effective methods such as larger windows that face east which will help in heating the school in the morning.

The heat is slowly released during the day through smaller openings on the west end of the building, providing a comfortable environment for the school children and teachers. Lighting was also a main concern as the previous schools were dark, making it difficult for the teacher or the blackboard to be seen or for the children to read and write. Since glass is expensive and difficult to transport remotely, strategically placed openings have been designed for the buildings which will provide sufficient light throughout the day while being careful to take into account the strong winds in the area which could cause very cold drafts in the classrooms.

Congo School Building Site Plan
Congo School

The new designs garnered a very positive reaction by members of the community who also suggested using the space as a provisional clinic, an after-hours literacy centre and providing a sheltered play area for the children. Plans also include blackboards which until now were small planks of plywood painted black; provisions for furnishings such as desks which until now were nonexistent and students were crammed onto benches; and features to make it possible to hang materials from the walls which were previously made of mud.

Building plans are to break ground at the beginning of August followed by eight months of on-site building. The contractor and their crew will be relocated onto the building sites. Their accommodation will be arranged by the respective village committees who will also be responsible for the safeguarding and collection of building materials from the surrounding area including sand, stones, water and timber. They will also arrange the transport of cement from the nearest commercial centre to the rural areas where their villages are situated and vehicles cannot reach. The school reconstruction project funding is being provided by Children in Crisis UK.

Congo Community, 2009
Congo School

Robin Cross BA(Hons) DipArch(Dist) ADPP(Dist) ARB
Director of Projects, Article 25

Location: South Kivu, DRC, Africa

African Building
Calabar Conference Center
image : Henning Larsen Architects

For more information about Article 25 and the Children in Crisis School Reconstruction Project please contact Article 25 at [email protected] or browse the website,

Congo School Building Photos © Article 25

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Comments / photos for the Democratic Republic of Congo School Architecture – Article 25 Building in Africa page welcome