The Vault School

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

Image: Side Elevation of School


Extract from the Earth Architecture Competition:

Competition completed in collaboration with Hiten Bawa of Studio HB


Shule Ya Kuba or the Vault School was designed to generate a lived experience of vernacular earth architecture by using the age-old technique of timbrel vaulting. This is achieved by assembling three layers of compressed earth bricks with fast setting mortar to create thin earthen vaults. This type of structure uses a single building system that is cost effective, environmentally friendly, durable, quick to construct, and that can easily be replicated.

The school has been organised in the shape of a crescent to harmoniously integrate with its natural terrain by allowing its highest point to gently progress to its lowest through a series of inter-connected ramps. The crescent is framed by the entrance at its higher end and the dining hall at its lower end in the form of a lightweight bamboo shell.

Image: View of internal courtyard


The classrooms have an airy and barrel vault like interior with shared courtyards to allow lessons to spill into the outdoors. Large bay windows are used to overlook the main courtyard with smaller more playful windows overlooking the vegetable gardens. The gardens and landscaping were designed to pay homage to the greater context of Mt Kilimanjaro and is expressed in a terraced and organic form that mimics the volcanoes craters.

Image: School Classroom


At its core Shule Ya Kuba was planned to not only meet the basic needs of the children who will use it, but rather to exceed expectations in showing that you can do more with less by pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with seemingly ordinary materials.


Image: Back Elevation of School


#Architecture #SchoolDesign #BuildingWithBricks #TrimbleVaulting #ASchoolForTanzania #ArchitecturalDesign #SchoolDesignPrinciples #MakingADifference

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