45179_towardssaferschoolconstruction_0 2015 - Page 25

• Speed versus quantity. Construction speed and cost versus building lifespan – to build semi-permanent or permanent? • Quality versus speed. A consistent design for better compliance to safety standards and streamlined construction versus design diversity for increased functionality and tailoring to specific site characteristics. • Cost versus quantity. Higher costs of site-specific design versus the economy of scale that comes with a consistent design template. • Quantity versus quality. Breadth of school construction versus depth of community engagement – creating community “ownership” versus building more schools. These conflicting considerations can be conceptualised by the project diamond: prioritising time, cost, quantity or quality can only be achieved at the cost of other factors. Speed Budget Haiti government through a protracted process, meaning the first schools were completed in June 2011 and the last schools in early 2013, three years after the earthquake. Initially, the short-term strategy made sense, but navigating the economic and political environment took so much time that the original argument for speed decayed. This left Save the Children with two key lessons about trade-offs in construction lifespan: the staff needed a shared definition of ‘semi-permanent’, and a well-communicated plan for upgrading schools to permanent structures when they degraded. SECTION I: INTRODUCTION Key decisions or trade-offs: Ensure technical oversight and engage as partners Many school construction projects functioned well with the standardised building footprint, while some required compromise to achieve sufficient classroom numbers. In the latter cases, school administrators made ad-hoc changes, some of which compromised safety and classroom function. A five-way memorandum of understanding (MOU) was established in an attempt to mitigate these changes. The MOU provided written agreement of roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder in advance, including school staff, MoE, Save the Children, the municipality and the local Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). Quality Quantity Many of the key trade-offs were made at the design stage, which in turn dictated the programmatic decisions that followed. Save the Children opted for a standardised school design and a semi-permanent structure in an attempt to optimise donor expectations for an immediate response, speed and cost. Schools were all single-story with 190-cm-high reinforced concrete skirt walls. The walls were topped with timber framing and clad with plywood. Corrugated metal was used for the roof. Graphic: Save the Children. A semi-permanent lifespan was seen as a middle ground. Donors were less inclined to lend money for permanent structures when the country was in the emergency and immediate recovery phase. Save the Children had its own goal to build a certain quota of schools and were contractually obligated to achieve those numbers. The Haitian MoE was also requesting temporary, immediate construction. Even as they drafted the design, they recognised that some building elements, in particular the plywood cladding, would require maintenance and replacement. The semi-permanent school design was approved by the 16