- Architects: Building Trust international, Weston Williamson + Partners
- Location: Unnamed Road, ជីបាល, Cambodia
- Area: 440.0 m2
- Project Year: 2017
- Photographs: Lucas Veuve
- Design And Engineering Support: Engenuiti and Integration
- Contractor Team: Rossothy Contractors
From the architect. Reinventing rural school design through re-imagining of the humble brick
A new school in rural Cambodia, designed and built pro-bono by Weston Williamson + Partners alongside Building Trust international officially opened on International Children’s Day. BTi worked with WW+P, Engenuiti and Integration to design a building which was flexible and adaptable meeting current and future needs. The school design comprises of three additional classrooms, a library and a covered external classroom with a play area, which doubles as a small amphitheatre.
Until now the school in Khyaung village, 40km north east of Phnom Penh has catered for 359 pupils aged 3-17 in two old buildings. The lack of accommodation has meant that children travelling from six surrounding villages to this, the area’s only school catering for children up to secondary age, had to attend in shifts, part-time.
The new schools innovative, cost-effective and low maintenance design maximises the use of external and internal spaces, incorporating traditional verandas to enable teaching and play in small groups. The classrooms open onto the central school yard area, whilst cross ventilation is maximised by the use of high level openings and using the bricks cavities to increase airflow. The cross section and orientation of the school building responds to the local environmental conditions of the site, with the distinctive ‘top hat’ zinc roof form incorporating overhanging verandas which provide solar shading to the classroom walls to prevent overheating.
These external covered spaces also provide a shaded area for smaller informal classes. The library opens onto the adjoining external covered space, which is central to the plan and offers a shaded and flexible space, providing a stimulating environment for learning and play. It also provides a community meeting space outside of school hours.
Locally available materials have been used throughout, and the setting-out of the building has a direct relationship to the distinctive brick module of the region. The detailing and arrangement of the brick walls has been carefully considered to maximise cross ventilation while also providing variety and interest. The rhythm of the brick detailing to the library differs to that of the classrooms so as to allow great light levels internally and increase passive ventilation.
Says WW+P, Senior Partner Philip Breese: “The school was designed in close collaboration with the local community and Building Trust International. It’s only the start of what we hope will be an on-going exchange of skills and ideas with our friends in Khyaung Village.”
A central aim of the project was to foster an on-going relationship with the local community in Khyaung, allowing ideas to be shared and knowledge to be exchanged. To achieve this, the design was developed in close collaboration with the school allowing for skills sharing and brainstorming ideas with local contractors and the community.