Earthen School Tipu Sultan Merkez, Pakistan
A new school project consist of eight classrooms constructed from earth and bamboo to be implemented in two building phases | Two floors: heavy earth cube on ground floor and light bamboo structure on top floor | Earthquake and flood-resistant design | Continued development of local building traditions, e.g. 'cobwork' | Increased durability via a moisture-resistant foundation, horizontal barrier and protection against pests | Cooperation with local architects | Implementation with local craftsmen who have been trained in the enhanced building techniques
Definition of task according to Tipu Sultan Merkez:
The new building should be built using natural building materials, especially earth and bamboo, which would also make it an attractive example of sustainable earthen building techniques in the region. The new school structure is intended to display the initiative that well-planned ‚modern‘ earthen structures are not only a low-cost and energy-saving alternative to brick and concrete structures, but also that these earthen buildings are significantly less susceptible to weather effects and more sustainable than traditional designs. Furthermore, it was the aim to establish bamboo, which is up to now just used for temporary and minor constructions, as a durable, high-value and sustainable building material.
The new school building consists of the required eight classrooms and the required service areas. The classrooms are located in two separate earthen structures. A bamboo bearing structure is located between them and in front of them, which supports the staircase, service areas, and the free study room. The classes in the ground floor feature large window niches with a seating bench directed towards the south. The balcony in
the first floor features benches made of bamboo to provide additional seating surfaces. The veranda on the north side is relatively open and orients itself visually towards the arcade featured by the existing structures.
In order to execute the two-storey building complex in a manner able to withstand earthquakes, separate axis-symmetrical structures are produced in two building phases. In the ground floor, this features a heavy earthen body, and in the top floor a light bamboo structure. The baked brick foundation projecting 60 centimeters from the ground forms the base of the school. This protects the school against splashing water and possible flooding and supports the solid earthen walls. These are constructed in cob, a building technique using an earth and straw mix, which is similar to the traditional local technique. The inserted horizontal barrier between the wall and base protects the earth against rising moisture. Classrooms on the first floor
are built using the wattle and daub technique; the light bamboo structure is filled with brickearth and covered with a surrounding bamboo weave, which also offers protection against the sun and rain. The classrooms are connected via a two-storey bamboo veranda, which also serves as an extended classroom. This also forms a buffer zone to protect the earth walls behind against the monsoon rains that mainly approach from the north-west. The ceiling and the classic flat-roof structure consist of a triple-layer bamboo structure that is covered with a layer of earth. The moisture-regulating property of the earth in combination with night time cooling (ventilation through the window opening) mainly allows additional air conditioning to be omitted during the hot summer months. In the winter, the building is warmed via passive solar energy due to its north-south orientation. Sufficient large windows may be opened to provide good natural lighting. The roofed veranda area provides a well-ventilated outdoor room, and the surrounding bamboo curtain also acts as a good sunshade.
PROJECT TEAM: Contractor, project sponsor: Tipu Sultan Merkez (TSM) | Funding: VEBS – Verein für Entwicklung, Bildung und Selbsthilfe e.V.; ‚Micro-Project-Scheme‘ of the German Embassy, Islamabad, Pakistan | Architect: Roswag Architekten | Local Architects: Profile architectural consultancy; Ghayyoor Obaid Syed, local consultant | Structural planning, special consulting on earth construction: Ziegert | Seiler Ingenieure | Consulting on bamboo design, connection technique: Geflecht und Raum, Emmanuel Heringer | PROJECT DATA: Construction phase I: 03/2011–03/2013