Humanitarian design studio Orkidstudio selected 10 architectural students from around the UK to help build Mutende’s Harold Mwenge Memorial Academy in Zambia. The team designed the community hall – which is subdivided into an IT suite, office and supply room – in just seven weeks at a cost of $161/m2. Apart from doubling the amount of study space available to local children, the extension also bolsters Mutende's role as a place for orphans and abandoned children to receive loving care in a safe environment.
The new structure mimics the existing L-shaped classroom block on site, with a roof that is designed to look like a single foil sheet that folds out towards the front of the building and provides a shaded space for those just about to enter the building. To accommodate the tight building schedule, various aspects of the building were allowed to be erected simultaneously. Many components of the building sit away from the primary structure and bear no structural load, which allowed for more flexibility when it came to scheduling. One such component is the fired mud-brick walls that wrap around the structure like a skin, and act as dividers between different spaces within the building.
Orkidstudio’s team carried out the construction during term-time, which meant they were able to engage with the children, teachers and the local community to gather important feedback about the project. By sharing their vision and responding to the desires of local people, the team were able to make changes as they went, creating new spaces such as a central courtyard that sits at the heart of the school.
The architectural firm previously built a chicken shed in Easter 2012 as a community business endeavour for The Mutende Children’s Village, and will soon be focusing on projects in Sierra Leone and Kenya. They also plan to employ the help of more student volunteers in future, with the hope that they will be able to mimic the success of this particular project.
Images by Orkidstudio