45179_towardssaferschoolconstruction_0 (2015) - Page 81

Country and hazard overview CASE STUDY Sustainable design: Building from the ground up Country: Republic of Ghana Organisation: Sabre Charitable Trust, Arup International Development Hazards: High winds, earthquakes, extreme temperature Keywords: environmental sustainability, functionality, research, building trust, Ghana Summary: Sabre Charitable Trust and Arup International Development incorporated local building materials and design preferences into kindergartens for Central and Western Ghana, paying special attention to sustainability principles. Through prolonged research and community interaction, the team created a design that used both modern preferences for concrete and local materials to create safer schools. With a rapidly growing population, Ghana’s education sector has struggled to keep pace with demand. Nearly 30,000 public sector classrooms are in need of major repair and the country has a shortage of nearly 10,000 kindergarten classrooms. In the country’s decentralised system, the process of constructing schools often begins with a community parent teacher association (PTA) or elder petitioning the district assembly or district line ministry. The government body will then seek funds for construction, either from their own coffers or by identifying a development actor willing to fund or even oversee a school construction project. Communities typically contribute to the building of public schools, providing in-kind labour, materials, or cash to support a hired contractor. Community elders may also attempt to monitor construction to ensure contractors meet contractual obligations, but safety remains a concern given the technical nature of construction. One common problem is when the contractor fails to properly attach roof trusses to the building frame. Many schools have lost their roofs when high winds blow across the region; similar damage can result from seismic tremors present in the south of the country. School construction: Incorporating sustainability principles into design In the design process, the first step was in-depth research about vernacular design and the local construction skills. The design team ensured the materials were not just local, but also readily available, even checking in the local markets to see first-hand what was for sale. They also aspired to ‘build from the ground up’, meaning they were literally attempting to pull resources from the earth and incorporate them into the school building. SECTION III: DESIGN In 2008, Sabre Charitable Trust teamed up with technical experts from Arup to design and construct safe, affordable, replicable, maintainable and environmentally sustainable kindergarten buildings that met the needs of communities living in the central and western regions of Ghana. When local building practices and conventional materials were not likely to produce a safe building, the team turned Innovative façade made using pivoting bamboo shutters to allow optimum amount of natural light and ventilation. Photos: Arup & Sabre Trust. 72