LAYEARTH PROJECT IN AFRICA! / by Anne Bussone

RDS's team member, Jacob Van de Roovaart, recently submitted a design entry for the 4th Earth Architecture Competitionan international competition that calls for designers and young architects around the world to design a portion of a secondary school in a small village in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, Africa. The competition is sponsored by the NKA Foundation, which focuses on bringing together individuals and groups to engage in local and global humanitarian activities through the use of arts. Designers had the opportunity to focus on one of the following programs: classrooms, labs, a cafeteria, student dormitories, or a teachers' administration block, with a common thread of using rammed earth as the main building material. Rammed earth is commonly seen as the “poor man’s” building material in Ghana, and this competition seeks to change that notion through careful construction methods that can be easily taught to locals.  

Jacob’s project, LAYEARTH, focuses on the classroom typology, and proposes a simple yet elegant solution comprised of rammed earth (sourced onsite) and bamboo (Ghana has the 3rd largest bamboo forest in the world). LAYEARTH seeks to combine simple construction methods with local building materials to create a rammed earth classroom composed of unique layers. The design promotes a comfortable learning environment through understanding Ghana’s climate and culture. A bamboo layer, or screen, drives the aesthetic of the classroom and helps to not only shade the walls from the sun, but also to define the outdoor space. From the exterior, one can immediately observe the layers of depth that the bamboo screen provides at both the circulation corridor along the eastern and western sides and through the large covered outdoor entry, meant to act as an extension of the classroom. The covered outdoor space is essential because it provides an opportunity for students to study in a dynamic environment with multiple learning spaces. The offset bamboo layer is critical in regulating the internal temperature of the classroom because it prevents direct heat gain through the walls.

If you want to see Jacob's LAYEARTH project that he submitted, please click here