British architectural firm Squire and Partners teamed up with charity Computer Aid International to transform an old shipping container into Zubabox, a solar-powered youth education center that provides internet connectivity in remote areas. First launched in Cazuca, near Bogota, Colombia, the retrofitted shipping container is the country’s first Dell Solar Learning Lab, a prototype designed to provide a safe environment where local youth can develop social and digital skills. The beautiful yet low-cost design scrubs away the shipping container’s industrial past, replacing it with a bright and airy workspace with colorful art, light, and technology.
Computer Aid International first approached Squire and Partners in 2014 for a more cost-effective and enjoyable version of the nonprofit’s original Zubabox, ten of which had already been deployed in eleven locations across Africa. The architects began with the same recycled shipping container framework that defined the original Zubabox, but then maximized the number of openings in the new Zubabox to increase cross ventilation and natural light. A shaded external deck was added to expand the building footprint, while a larger roof size allowed for a greater number of solar panels.
Squire and Partners worked with Bogota-based manufacturers, furniture makers, and artists to deliver the redesigned Zubabox to Cazuca in 2016. The shipping container was locally converted and outfitted with bespoke timber seating and desks, as well as a graffiti mural by two local artists. The lab is equipped with ten donated refurbished computers. The simple modular design can operate alone or be grouped together with other units. Donated oil drums were recycled as planters for native trees and flowers to create a garden in front of the Zubabox.
Images via Squire and Partners