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Future Rural Schools

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Docenten: Catherine Mengé, Laurens Bekemans
Engagement: Craftsmanship

FUTURE RURAL SCHOOLS – MOROCCO
CONTENT
In a global perspective, around 90% of the world’s population cannot afford an architect, who is trained to design from behind his computer and prescribe mass-produced materials. The pre- industrialized concept of a master-builder might just come back. It reflects the idea of an integral approach to architecture, embedded in local context, local materials and local craftsmanship.
Through contemporary ways of sharing knowledge in between cultures, the master-builder becomes
a ‘common good’ of designing and building, both ‘on site’ and ‘through contemporary digital
media’. This ‘common good’ is materialized in the design studio ‘Future rural schools’, which tries
to explore this integrated approach.
The project site is located in the neighbourhood of Agadir, Morocco.  Within this studio it is the intention to design pre-schools in rural environments based upon bio-climatic principles using local resources, knowledge and techniques. The Commune of Drarga (Morocco) ordered the construction of 5 of such schools in their region. The design of the school will be therefore developed as a prototype school and will function as an example for the development of the 4 other schools.

DESIGN APPROACH
The studio works with 2 key principles that are connected to sustainable research and design: ‘sense of place’ and ‘materiality’.
On one hand we focus on the sense of a place. We’ll try to understand and work with the specificity of the context. With this knowledge students develop a personal but site-anchored (spatial + socio-cultural) architectural project for the chosen site. Both in terms of functionality and materialization the project is celebrating the place.
On the other hand, we’ll look into the materiality and craftsmanship of architecture. Everything is embedded. The student is challenged to understand in a holistic way the site and develop affinities with local resources, construction techniques, bioclimatic principles and architectural typologies. These explorations will bring students closer to materials and their constructive features. Bridging the existing gap between architectural education and the craftsmanship of architecture.
AIM
The aim of the design studio is to develop a vision on schools in rural contexts and a high-quality architectural project until executional level. The students will develop their designs as architectural strategies, giving the possibility to adapt their proposals easily to different topographies, different rural morphologies and technical necessities.
PROGRAM
An important exercise is the critical definition of the program :
… in relation to the function to accommodate (to learn to simplify and search for the essence)
… in relation to the contextual characteristics (to see the difference between the relevant and the redundant) (to understand how an area can give content to a program) (to learn how to seek for more value for the environment)
… in relation to the reality of sustainibility (to learn to assess the impact of any intervention)

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