The ‘MOVINGschool’ project provides relocatable, modular schools for migrant and refugee populations. Transforming the learning environments of more than 1000 children to date from schools made from merely a tarpaulin sheet stretched over a mud floor with a few pieces of bamboo into safe, clean, light, well ventilated classrooms that in some cases double as boarding houses. Refugees and migrants often do not have the right to own land in host countries making any infrastructural investment difficult. Building Trust's innovative relocatable school building designs safeguard against this and provide lasting security to communities and a sustainable aid approach for humanitarian agencies.
The concept of the MOVINGschool project is to provide displaced or informally settled communities with safe well designed spaces that provide the core functions of both school buildings & community hubs. In order for this to be sustainably achieved the buildings are transportable, yet convey a sense of permanence & stability. Providing education to displaced groups is integral to ensuring the loss of a generation does not occur. The project is a reaction to the lack of long term security felt by displaced community groups & the lack of secure sustainable investment routes for aid agencies where land is rented or disputed.
The MOVINGschool buildings are designed to minimise the detrimental effects of flooding, maximise natural light & ensure passive ventilation. Their modular form allows them to break apart & come together responding to any number of site conditions. The skeletal steel frame is designed for zero waste using uniform sized elements or divisions of standard lengths. Reclaimed tyres filled with gravel form foundations which can be relocated along with the school if desired. A UV resistant tensile fabric is adapted for the roof which dramatically reduces internal noise in rain & overheating in the sun and far surpasses the life expectancy of tarp, zinc or thatch roofs. The internal walls move to create flexible spaces that get larger or smaller depending on the desired functionality. The construction process is an educational tool in its own right. Working with local youth groups construction skills are taught to apprentices who take the skills home & make improvements to their own housing. Traditional skills using sustainable materials like bamboo are celebrated & where possible used in cladding & internal walls.
By creating relocatable schools we save on materials, time & energy used to build repeated low cost structures thereby reducing disruption to education. This allows greater time for community members to spend on their own housing whilst fostering sustainable construction techniques & bringing communities together in shared goals. The project started on the Thai-Burma border where the third school has just been completed due to the popularity of the pilot. We have created a freely downloadable set of assembly drawings which lay out the steps for others to create their own MOVINGschool & we hope to repeat the success in 2014 in Cambodia & Sierra Leone with communities within informal settlements where land titles are also a big issue.
A special thanks to Amadeo Bennetta and Dan LaRossa, winners of our 'School 4 Burma' competition, who developed such a superb design.