This project was made possible thanks to a generous donation from the PAN Foundation.
Dabao village is remotely situated within the scenic mountain range of Guangxi province in China. This completely isolated settlement provides home to around 110 families of an ethnic minority group called the 'Yaos', who have their own very distinctive dialect and culture.
Due to their seclusion and poverty, the village lacked a safe environment for the children to learn. Thus, the Dabao project aimed at providing the Yaos with a primary school, which at the same time serves as a community centre. The design and construction process was an active dialogue between Dabao villagers and the team, a reciprocal exchange in culture, knowledge and skills. As a result, the design responds to and shows a deep understanding of the people and place for which it was designed. The outcome of the project is a piece of architecture attuned to its environment and transformed by the obstacles that arose during the process.
The building is situated within the paddy fields on the mountains of Dabao. The design concept is structured around the use of layers of walls in addressing the challenges originated from the steep topography of the site. Bamboo as an abundant supply in the area, has been made use of for a long bamboo fa√ßade along the southern site. It not only acts as a protective barrier from the road outside, but also regulates the transmission of noise and daylight whilst ensuring privacy of occupants at the same time. The use of different diameters and lengths of bamboo tubes responds adequately to the different light requirements of the rooms for their respective functions.
The main level of the building houses two classrooms and a community library. An outdoor playground and gathering area is located on the second level with access to the roof of the building accessible for the children to play and for villagers to rest.