Sierra Leone School – African School Building

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Sierra Leone School

Education Building Development in Africa – design by Foster + Partners
4 Jun 2009

Sierra Leone School Building

Foster + Partners reveals designs for Sierra Leone school
in Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London

Sierra Leone School
image : Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners has unveiled a model for the design of a school in Sierra Leone at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition in London. Working together with Article 25, Save the Children and Buro Happold, this unique project to establish a design prototype was the result of close collaboration with the local community to create a series of highly flexible buildings with larger classrooms, effective ventilation and natural light.

Concept Sketch by Norman Foster
Sierra Leone School
picture : Foster + Partners

The design draws parallels with a number of early social projects. Its modular system embraces floor, walls and roof on a flexible plan and can be easily assembled and reconfigured to meet the different demands of communities in Sierra Leone. The response to climatic and economic restraints has produced something close to a new vernacular: an ‘architecture without architects’. Visually, the scheme resonates with existing schools, yet functionally it is a dramatic departure. This has ensured widespread acceptance of the design, enabling teachers – for the first time – to circulate in classrooms that are light and naturally ventilated and offering better security and supervision.

Sierra Leone School Sierra Leone School
images : Narinder Saghoo_Foster + Partners

The design is being jointly funded by Foster + Partners, Article 25 and Buro Happold and construction will be financed by the Foster family.

Norman Foster said:
“The project to design a school for Sierra Leone has been both an exciting design challenge, as well as an ambitious undertaking to help improve education in one of the world’s poorest countries. Our approach seeks to achieve the most with the least, using indigenous techniques and materials to create a prototype for a modern, flexible school building that is uplifting and inspiring to use.”

Sierra Leone School images / information from Foster + Partners

Sierra Leone School Building architects : Foster + Partners


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School Buildings

Sierra Leone Schools – Background

Article 25 is a construction charity working in International Development.
• The school is easily assembled using locally sourced bush-sticks, standard-sized timber planks and generic modules of sheet metal for the roof.
• Louvered apertures in the walls admit natural light and reduce contrast with the daylight outside.
• The pitch of the roof is at an angle of 30 degrees to minimise solar gain and encourage cross-ventilation. The ‘top hat’ of an additional roof increases air flow through the spaces and adds more natural light.
• The roof can be extended to create a generous overhang at either end of the building, creating shaded external areas for informal teaching or play.

Also by Foster + Partners in Africa:

Banyan Tree Corniche Bay, Mauritius
Banyan Tree Africa
image : Foster + Partners
Banyan Tree

Cyrene Declaration, Libya
Foster + Partners
Cyrene Declaration
image : Foster + Partners

Libyan architecture




African Buildings + Developments

Bibliotheca Alexandrina / Alexandria Library, Egypt
Snohetta Architecture
Alexandria Library
photo from Snøhetta Architects

Alexandria Library Egypt

Four Seasons Seychelles

Congo Schools for Article 25, Democratic Republic of Congo
Congo School
image from architect
Congo School Buildings

Comments / photos for the Sierra Leone SchoolAfrica Educational Architecture page welcome

Sierra Leone School Building : page

Website: Africa