Brazilian education NGO Vagalume recently sent us their proposal for a series of modular eco-libraries to cultivate literacy along the Amazon River basin, and we think it's a worthy idea. Over the last 10 years, the non-profit has worked with 290 communities to improve academic importance in the local children and now their next step to elevate their work is to build local libraries for these areas. Partnering with Davis Brody Bond (formerly known as Davis Brody Bond Aedas), Vagalume has come up with a design for a sustainable library kit, that can easily be transported by boat up the river and assembled on site using local labor.
The Vagalume Eco Library is based on a modular bookshelf that the nonprofit distributes already. Assembled from 4 precut pieces, the shelves can be flat packed and transported via boat. Upon arrival to the site, these modular shelves become the building blocks for the entire library. Some of the modules will actually serve as shelves, while others will get panels to make walls, some will get louvers to encourage ventilation, and others will be filled with local organic material to be used as finishes or enclosures. These modular panels are then assembled together to create the basic structure. The entire structure sits on a raised platform and is covered by a large arching roof which provides shade and protection from the rain, while still allowing air to flow in and around to keep things cool.
This library can also serve as a community building and will be powered with a few solar panels to generate energy for a communal TV and lights. The simple structure relies mostly on natural daylighting and ventilation thereby minimizing any energy needs beyond lighting for night time. A simple water storage and filtration system will collect rainwater for use as drinking water. A biodigester or septic tank can be installed to minimize health problems and keep from contaminating nearby water. The design team is also researching how to incorporate composting, fish farming and hydroponic gardens.
So far, Vagalume has raised half of the necessary funding to fabricate the modular parts and begin building these libraries. The design team is working to raise awareness and more funding in order to see the project come to fruition. Beyond building these libraries, the goals of the project include training local people to build these libraries, which would give them new schools and provide new sources of income. By educating the children and their parents, Vagalume hopes to increase literacy and also increase environmental awareness. Already the people who live in the Amazon know it most intimately and are best prepared to care for it. With more education, these people can manage and protect the area even better.
Images ©Davis Brody Bond Architects