Kurandza Learning Centre

An open competition to design a new learning centre for the NGO Kurandza, focused on ensuring that girls and women in their community are able to finish their studies and don’t have to drop out of school early.

The site presents a great opportunity for the establishment of a new learning centre for the NGO Kurandza. Climate and environment are key drivers of the design as long periods of drought and hot weather require buildings that offer shelter and security. All existing buildings on the site are retained, with the new learning centre arranged around them to avoid demolition and disruption, favouring retention as part of the new facilities.

The design is a simple layout of three classroom buildings and three ancillary support buildings that place education and wellbeing at the forefront of a compact campus layout. The buildings are orientated around a central activity space with covered courtyards that provides solar shading throughout the day. Phase one locates the first classroom and support buildings near to the access road to provide a protective edge. Phase 2 (the canopy) and Phase 3 (classrooms 2 and 3) occupy the north of the site.

All buildings stand independent of each other, unified by the canopy and shared activity spaces running North-East to South-West, with breakout activity spaces between the individual buildings. Support facilities are distributed between the smaller blocks to ensure that all elevations are active and there are no quiet corners or spaces without surveillance, providing security and a safe learning environment.

The palette of locally sourced, recycled materials and construction techniques are repeated across all blocks. A concrete slab lifts the accommodation clear of the ground to minimise potential damage in the event of flooding. A concrete frame sat on the slab is infilled with adobe brick walls, colourful timber shutters and louvres that continue across the inclined roof to form the main enclosure and provide shading for the buildings.

A secondary external timber roof structure supports a sheet metal canopy that shades the covered backyards and central courtyard, combined with integrated solar panels that generate electricity for the buildings. The architecture encourages interaction as the elevations contain steps and platforms for jumping, sitting, balancing and playing, along with quieter external spaces.

The buildings are all fully naturally ventilated, with surface water from roofs and the canopy collected in buried storage tanks for irrigation and use within the buildings. The existing orchard and trees on the site further enhance cooling within the buildings and provide fruit for cooking.

The new learning centre places inclusivity, security and sustainability at its centre. It is a place where girls can feel safe and comfortable, a place where they can learn, play, run and discover.

Client – NGO Kurandza
Type – Community, Education
Location – Chivonguene, South Mozambique
Status – Open Competition