© Kurt Hoerbst

HANDEMADE SCHOOL

Anna Heringer

Rudrapur, Bangladesh

Anna Heringer

© Kurt Hoerbst

2007

275

The philosophy of METI (Modern Education and Training Institute) is learning with joy. The teachers help the children to develop their own potential and to use it in a creative and responsible way. The building reflects these ideas in terms of materials, techniques and architectural design.
The aim of the project is to improve existing building techniques, to contribute to sustainability by utilising local potential and to strengthen regional identity.

Bangladesh is a fertile alluvial land in the Gulf of Bengal and the land with the highest population density in the world.
On average nearly 1000 people live in every square kilometre and over 80% of the population live in rural areas.
Much of the vernacular built tradition uses earth and bamboo as a building material, however, construction techniques
are error-prone and many buildings lack foundations and damp proof coursing. Such buildings require regular maintenance, are often prone to damage and last on average only 10 years.

It is particularly important to improve the quality of living in the rural areas in order to counteract the continuing population migration to the cities.
The primary potential for developing building in the rural areas is the low cost of labour and locally available resources such as earth and bamboo.

The project’s main strategy is to communicate and develop knowledge and skills within the local population so that they can make the best possible use of their available resources. Historic building techniques are developed and improved and the skills passed on to local tradesmen transforming in the process the image of the building techniques.
METI aims to promote individual abilities and interests taking into account the different learning speeds of the schoolchildren and trainees in a free and open form of learning. It offers an alternative to the typical frontal approach to lessons.

The architecture of the new school reflects this principle and provides different kinds of spaces and uses to support this approach to teaching and learning.
On the ground floor with its thick earth walls, three classrooms are located each with their own access opening to an organically shaped system of ‘caves’ to the rear of the classroom. The soft interiors of theses spaces are for touching, for nestling up against, for retreating into for exploration or concentration, on one’s own or in a group.

The upper floor is by contrast light and open, the openings in its bamboo walls offering sweeping views across the surroundings, its large interior providing space for movement. The view expands across the treetops and the village pond.
Light and shadows from the bamboo strips play across the earth floor and contrast with the colourful materials of the saris on the ceiling.

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