4th Earth Architecture competition: Designing a School for Ghana
The challenge was to design an earth architecture type that will be built as a unit of a community secondary school (classrooms, offices, library, laboratories, dorms...) in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. The entry will emphasize sustainable architecture and cost efficient construction by fully integrating local materials and passive solar design. The type should be designed for construction by maximum use of earth and local labor with material costs not exceeding $8,000 (USD).
The Asante Classroom design began by identifying key objectives which would ultimately become the primary factors which drove the design development. The first objective was to develop a classroom design which would utilize the community's expertise, locally harvested building materials, as well as labor. The walls of the classroom will be constructed by hand pressed brick, rammed Earth, and Atakpamé building method. Since these are common building practices is Abetenim, local expertise would be important and highly regarded. The second objective was to develop a design which fits the cultural vernacular.
ASHANTI INFLUENCED DESIGN STRATEGIES
Traditional Asante building practices were studied and used as a precedent for some of the aesthetic decisions employed in the classroom design. For example the use of Adinkra symbols at the base of Asante buildings became the inspiration for the Earth brick pattern used in the design. The design of the classroom was also inspired by the passive thermal design strategies used in traditional Asante architecture. The light grey plaster used over the Atakpamé reduces the building's heat gain. Also borrowed from Asante tradition is the use of high pitched roofs which allows for a better air circulation and creates cool interior spaces. Finally, the third objective which was identified was changing the perception of inferiority towards Earth construction. The use of subtle aesthetic elements provide depth and play to the facade, but at the same are still within the cultural boundaries of the Asante.
NEA ONNIM NO SUA A, OHU
"He who does not know can know from learning.”
-West African Wisdom