Saturday, September 24, 2011

METI – Handmade School / By Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag

Rudrapur, Dinajpur, Bangladesh
Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag
Post By:Kitticoon Poopong
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
Bangladesh is a fertile alluvial land in the Gulf of Bengal and the land with the highest population density in the world. On average nearly 1000 people live in every square kilometre and over 80% of the population live in rural areas.

Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
Much of the vernacular built tradition uses earth and bamboo as a building material, however, construction techniques are error-prone and many buildings lack foundations and damp proof coursing. Such buildings require regular mainte- nance, are often prone to damage and last on average only 10 years.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
Project aims:
It is particularly important to improve the quality of living in the rural areas in order to counteract the continuing popula- tion migration to the cities. The primary potential for developing building in the rural areas is the low cost of labour and locally available resources such as earth and bamboo.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
The project’s main strategy is to communicate and develop knowledge and skills within the local population so that they can make the best possible use of their available resources. Historic building techniques are developed and improved and the skills passed on to local tradesmen transforming in the process the image of the building techniques.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
Concept and Design:
METI aims to promote individual abilities and interests taking into account the different learning speeds of the schoolchil- dren and trainees in a free and open form of learning. It offers an alternative to the typical frontal approach to lessons. The architecture of the new school reflects this principle and provides different kinds of spaces and uses to support this approach to teaching and learning.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
On the ground floor with its thick earth walls, three classrooms are located each with their own access opening to an organically shaped system of ‘caves’ to the rear of the classroom. The soft interiors of theses spaces are for touching, for nestling up against, for retreating into for exploration or concentration, on one’s own or in a group.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
The upper floor is by contrast light and open, the openings in its bamboo walls offering sweeping views across the sur- roundings, its large interior providing space for movement. The view expands across the treetops and the village pond. Light and shadows from the bamboo strips play across the earth floor and contrast with the colourful materials of the saris on the ceiling.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
Building construction and techniques:
The building rests on a 50cm deep brick masonry foundation rendered with a facing cement plaster. Bricks are the most common product of Bangladesh’s building manufacturing industry. Bangladesh has almost no natural reserves of stone and as an alternative the clayey alluvial sand is fired in open circular kilns into bricks. These are used for building or are broken down for use as an aggregrate for concrete or as ballast chippings. Imported coal is used to fire the kilns.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
Aside from the foundation, the damp proof course was the other most fundamental addition to local earthen building skills. The damp proof course is a double layer of locally available PE-film. The ground floor is realised as load-bearing walls using a technique similar to cob walling. A straw-earth mixture with a low straw content was manufactured with the help of cows and water buffalo and then heaped on top of the foundation wall to a height of 65cm per layer. Excess material extending beyond the width of the wall is trimmed off using sharp spades after a few days. After a drying period of about a week the next layer of cob can be applied. In the third and fourth layers the door and window lintels and jambs were integrated as well as a ring beam made of thick bamboo canes as a wall plate for the ceiling.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
The ceiling of the ground floor is a triple layer of bamboo canes with the central layer arranged perpendicular to the layers above and beneath to provide lateral stabilisation and a connection between the supporting beams. A layer of planking made of split bamboo canes was laid on the central layer and filled with the earthen mixture analogue to the technique often used in the ceilings of European timber-frame constructions.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
The upper storey is a frame construction of four-layer bamboo beams and vertical and diagonal members arranged at right angles to the building. The end of the frames at the short ends of the building and the stair also serve to stiffen the building. These are connected via additional structural members with the upper and lower sides of the main beams and equipped with additional windbracing on the upper surface of the frame. A series of bamboo rafters at half the interval of the frame construction beneath provide support for the corrugated iron roof construction and are covered with timber panelling and adjusted in height to provide sufficient run-off.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
Finishes and fittings:
The exterior surface of the earth walls remains visible and the window jambs are rendered with a lime plaster. The framework constructon of the green façade to the rear is made of bamboo canes seated in footings made of old well pipe and with split horizontal timbers as latticework. The interior surfaces are plastered with a clay paster and painted with a lime-based paint. The ‘cave’s are made of a straw-earth daub applied to a supporting structure of bamboo canes and plastered with a red earth plaster. The upper storey façades are clad with window frames covered with bamboo strips and coupling elements hung onto the columns of the frame construction. A fifth layer of cob walling provides a parapet around the upper storey forming a bench run- ning around the perimeter of the building and anchoring the upper storey frame construction and roof against wind from beneath. A textile ceiling is hung beneath the roof is lit from behind in the evening. The cavity behind the textiles ventilates the roof space.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
On-site labour using and training the local workforce:
The masonry foundation was constructed by a company from the regional capital Dinajpur around 20km from Rudrapur. The earth building works and bamboo construction was undertaken by local labourers. The building techniques were implemented and developed on the job together with architects and tradesmen from Germany and Austria. 25 local tradesmen from the vicinity were trained during the building works creating new jobs and providing professional “help for self-help”.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
Exemplary nature, transferability, follow-on projects:
School handmade showcases the potential of good planning and design, from the arrangement of the building on the site to the realisation of aspects in detail. Furthermore it demonstrates the possibilities of building with earth and bamboo using simple methods as the continua- tion of a local rural building tradition and can serve as an example for future building developments in the area.
A stable foundation and a damp proof course are the primary technical prerequisites for building with earth, making the buildings last longer and reducing maintenance requirements. For smaller room spans, the newly developed bamboo ceiling construction can be made entirely out of local materials using handmade jute rope and bamboo dowelling.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
METI, Modern Education and Training Institute:
METI enables children and young people in the region to take classes up to the age of 14 and provides workshops for trade-oriented professions. The idea is to provide the rural population with access to good, holistically-oriented educa- tion. The children and young people are encouraged to develop into responsible, motivated and creative personalities and to use their skills to improve and develop their immediate rural environment. Reading, writing and arithmetic as well as languages are offered in a free environment and through open forms of learning. Meditation, dance and creative writ- ing are part of everyday learning at the METI School as are discussions, learning as part of a group and self-critical and social behaviour.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
Dipshikha, Bangladesh:
Dipshikha is an NGO dedicated to supporting development in the particularly poor regions of northern Bangladesh and has been active in this area for nearly 25 years. Paul Tigga, director of Dipshikha explains that the aim is to open up pos- sibilities in the villages to make people aware of the potential at home in an attempt to strengthen the region and reduce outward migration to the cities.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
Partnerschaft Shanti Bangladesch e.V.:
Shanti e.V. has been the German partner for Dipshikha since its foundation and supports the financing, planning and implementation of development and educational work. A central aspect of their work is the implementation of integrated village development programmes for education, health, strengthening the position of women in society, nutrition, agricul- ture and trade skills. Shanti also provides support in emergency situations and exchange and volunteer programmes.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
Päpstliches Missionswerk der Kinder (PMK, Papal Children’s Mission)
The PMK has supported METI for many years and was a partner for the school building together with Shanti and Dip- shikha.
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
“… beautiful, meaningful and humane…”
Jury of The Aga Khan Award for Architecture
Rudrapur lies in the north of the most densely populated country on the earth. Poverty and the lack of an infrastructure drive many people from the countryside into the cities. The local NGO Dipshikha attempts to follow new paths with its development programme: the intention is to give the rural population perspectives and to help people learn about the value of the village in all its complexity. Part of this is a special school concept that instils in the children self-confidence and independence with the aim of strengthening their sense of identity.
This joyous and elegant two-storey primary school in rural Bangladesh has emerged from a deep understanding of local materials and a heart-felt connection to the local community. Its innovation lies in the adaptation of traditional methods and materials of construction to create light-filled celebratory spaces as well as informal spaces for children. Earthbound materials such as loam and straw are combined with lighter elements like bamboo sticks and nylon lashing to shape a built form that addresses sustainability in construction in an exemplary manner. The design solution may not be replicable in other parts of the Islamic world, as local conditions vary, but the approach – which allows new design solutions to emerge from an in-depth knowledge of the local context and ways of building - clearly provides a fresh and hopeful model for sustainable building globally. The final result of this heroic volunteer effort is a building that creates beautiful, meaningful and humane collective spaces for learning, so enriching the lives of the children it serves.”
(Jury of The Aga Khan Award for Architecture 10th Circle)
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
Photo © Courtesy of Kurt Hoerbst
We already feel that this new ideas of the METI building have raised hope and confidence for an improvement of living conditions for the poor in our rural areas.”
(Paul Tigga, project partner and CEO Dipshikha – Bangladesh)
Being a Bangladeshi it really makes us proud when we see that we have got so many ‘unique’ materials and contexts to work with... and your work was particularly inspiring!!! so next autumn .. it would to great if I get the opportunity to work with you.“
(Zaqiul, student of architecture, Dhaka, Bangladesh)
site plan--drawing © Courtesy of Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag
It was good to do tests and experiments together before starting the real construction, so we could understand it although we did not know the language. And everybody learnt a lot from each other. I learned how to build strong walls, how to use measurement tools and the foreigners learnt, that the best mixing machines are water buffalos.”
(Suresh, loam worker, Rudrapur, Bangladesh)
Dear Anna-Didimoni, Hello, how are you? And what are you doing? I hope you are well. I am also well. Didimoni, we are very proud of you for making the building. I think no other building is as good as this building. It is very comfortable. In summer it is so cold, so it is very enyojable. O.k., didimoni, next news….”
(Poritosh, METI student, Rudrapur, Bangladesh)
elevations--drawing © Courtesy of Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag
elevations sketch--drawing © Courtesy of Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag
"All too often, aspirations towards modernity in developing countries have malign economic and cultural effects where construction is concerned. Traditional materials and techniques are abandoned in favour of the import of expensive and sometimes energy-inefficient materials and products, benefiting only manufacturers in more advanced economies. The outcome can at worst be the imposition of alien buildings, forms and materials which don’t last long and are difficult to maintain. Their only merit is to look new for a time. By contrast, this joyful project, in a poor rural area of Bangladesh (said to be the world’s most densely populated country), shows that new and refreshing local identity can be achieved by exploiting the immediate and the readily available (...)."
(Paul Finch, Architectural Review, UK)
Learning with joy is the school’s philosophy – the best for me is to see the building crowded with sprightly kids, who are really happy to go to school. It is primarily not the architecture that makes something special – it’s the people: everyone who worked on it with all efforts and potentials and all who live in it and fill the space with atmosphere.”
(Anna Heringer)
Description from the Architects:
section--drawing © Courtesy of Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag
section sketch--drawing © Courtesy of Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag

Video: The "handmade" village schools and single-family homes designed by
Anna Heringer in rural Bangladesh are an elegant blend of old and new, bucking the growing trend toward cement and steel buildings in the region by offering a sustainable alternative. These buildings combine local materials such as bamboo and straw with modern building components, and are constructed entirely by hand by local people, without the need for machinery or dependence on outside markets. These beautiful, small-scale community-built structures reaffirm that "progress" can be both ecologically sensitive and support local craftsmanship.

Project Data
Project name: METI – Handmade School
Location: Rudrapur, Dinajpur, Bangladesh
Program: School
Building: Two storey school building made with earth and bamboo Ground floor: 3 classrooms, Upper floor: 2 classrooms (dividable), Footprint 275 m2, Floor area 325 m2
Construction period: 6 months (September to December 2005, March - April 2006) 
Footprint Area: 275 sqm
Floor Area: 325 sqm
Completion Year: 2007
  • Aga Khan Award for Architecture Tenth Award Circle 06/2007 
  • Archiprix International - Hunter Douglas Award „World best graduate projects“ 2007 (winner) 
  • Emerging Architecture Award, Architectural Review, London 2008 (winner with DESI and HOMEmade) 
  • Emerging Architecture Award, Architectural Review, London 2006 (winner with METI) 
  • International Bamboo Building Design Competition 2007, (Winner) 
  • The 2007 Kenneth F. Brown Asia Pasific Culture And Architecture Design Award (Winner) 
  • World Architecture Community Award 1st Circle for HOMEmade (winner) 
  • World Architecture Community Award 3rd Circle for DESI (winner) 
  • Nomination for the DAM Award for Architecture in Germany 07/08 
  • Shortlisted for the WAN Award - Educational Building of the Year 2009 
  • Hans Schäfer Preis 2007 
  • Nomination for the Zumtobel Group Award for Sustainability 2007 
  • AA (Architectural Association) and EES (Environments, Ecology and Sustainability Research Cluster) Environmental Techtonics Competition 2006, London (“Honourable Mention”) 
  • Award from the Bavarian Academy for Rural Areas (Bayrischen Akademie für den ländlichen Raum), 2006 (winner) 
  • “Filippas Engel” Award, Princess Filippa zu Sayn-Wittgenstein Foundation, Sayn, 2006 
  • Margarethe Schütte - Lihotzky Scholarship, Austrian Chancellery, 2005 
  • Architecture prize from the Upper Austria Diocese, 2005 
  • GEA Prize, Austria, 2005 
  • Scholarship from the Kunstuniversität Linz, Austria, 2004 
  • Upper Austria Special Scholarship, Austria, 2004 
  • 1st prize, student competition “Wärmepol” Kunstuniversität Linz, Austria, 2002, realised 2005 
The people
Clients: Dipshikha/METI (Modern Education and Training Institute), Bangladesh in cooperation with Partnerschaft Shanti – Bangladesch and the Kindermissionswerk AachenStructural
Architects: Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag
Design and Concept: Anna Heringer
Technical planning: Eike Roswag
Structural engineering, Earth construction consulting: Dr. Christof Ziegert, Uwe Seiler Consulting
Building supervision and training of workers in bamboo construction: Emmanuel Heringer (basket weaver and carpenter), Stefanie Haider (blacksmith)
Landscape architecture: Khondaker Hasibul Kabir, Abdun Nime
Further consulting: Prof. Roland Gnaiger (supervision of Heringer’s dissertation “School-handmade in Bangladesh), Martin Rauch (earthen structures), Oskar Pankratz (energy concept), Rudolf Sackmauer (structureal engineering during designing)
Photographs:© Kurt Hoerbst

Note>>Location in this map, It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
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