With increasing awareness of the effects of growing and constantly changing economic, ecological, social, political, and economic polarization, the desire for a new social paradigm based on more sustainable lifestyles, quality of life, social integration, environmental awareness, and active participation of residents in decision-making is growing worldwide. The "Design-Build Program" at the RWTH Aachen University and University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf / Peter Behrens School of Arts experiments with innovative learning methods that integrate practical teaching as a concept within the usually mostly theoretical academic curriculum. This methodology has developed a new study and research typology: Bachelor's and Master's students learn to implement their ideas 1:1 and move from theory to practice. The participating students complete all planning and realization phases of a construction project - from the first sketch to detailed planning, 1:1 mockup, realization, monitoring costs and construction time, and long-term construction supervision. The collaboration of different universities, institutions, and chambers is an essential program component and supports the direct experience of the concept "Build Together - Learn Together." The questions and concurrently the objective is the achievement of interdisciplinary competence, imparted beyond pure factual knowledge. The challenge of the program fosters the strengthening of self-responsible action and an understanding of the value of one's work; it promotes experimental design and team competence, and last, the participation in collective social community processes.
Guinea is one of the last countries globally that has hardly developed touristically and economically. Cultural diversity is very present today—everyday life functions in rural areas mostly without electricity and running water. Beyond the big cities, there are no supermarkets, organized waste disposal, and no functioning banks, or regulated health care in rural areas. About 80% of the rural population is illiterate, and the unemployment rate is similarly high. Most people in rural areas live self-sufficient, growing their own staples and having almost no education or health care access.
The project is an equal collaboration of three academic institutions – the German University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf/ Peter Behrens School of Arts in Duesseldorf, the German RWTH Aachen University, and the Guinean ISAU/ Institut Superieur d'Architecture et d'Urbanisme.
Our project is located far away from urban civilization in the Faranah region in the village of Santiguah. The town has 300 inhabitants, who live a simple life in vernacular mud huts, there is no electricity, and water comes out of a public well. The school project is founded by the Guinean Ministry of Education MEN-A and the German KfW (German state-owned development bank) in a "Guinea II Basic Education Program" program. The program objective is to provide appropriate, secure, and continuous access to high-quality education to a more significant percentage of Guineans. Approximately 70 students from Germany and Guinea and young artisans participated in the build process. In addition, a close collaboration with the local trade school "Centre de Formation Professionnelle" was initiated.
Our design proposes a campus with two classroom buildings with six classrooms, two latrines with water points, a staff house, and a soccer field and housing for the teachers. The standard prototype, which KfW has various built-in regions of West Africa for many years, has climatic and spatial disadvantages (light, heat, sound). Improvements to the standard type are experimented with by spatial innovations, adding a passive ventilation system with a thermal double roof, and using local materials. 250 children from 8 villages will be attending the new school once all buildings are completed.
For now, the realization of 3 classrooms, two latrines with water points, the staff house, a school vegetable garden, and the soccer field is focused.
Due to the tropical weather conditions prevailing in Guinea, the natural cooling of the house is significant for the design. Therefore, a sustainable, passive ventilation system was developed as the main design feature that uses solar radiation and shading. The houses follow an easily understandable ventilation
principle: the windows are positioned parallel on both sides of the classroom. The buildings are aligned perpendicular to the wind direction so that the wind can circulate under the double roof to displace the hot air. Depending on heat and wind conditions, several and fewer slats of the windows open so that the warm air accumulated under the upper roof is drawn off to the outside by the resulting air draft.
The long rectangular building next to the classroom shaded additional outdoor spaces for education, leisure, and communication. All "added-value" areas have different qualities with benches and loose brick formations. The lower roof of the classrooms consists of small brick vaults, which rest on a steel beam construction. The upper top is covered with corrugated iron sheets, which reflect the direct sun impact.
The walls are massive, stabilized soil-cement blocks, which are dry-stacked and interlocked on four sides, eliminating the use of mortar by 70%. The dry toilet latrines follow a typical local system of dehydration technology with a dual-chamber design.
The dried remains can be used to fertilize the school garden.