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Escuelita Buganvilia – Honorable mention in architectural design


Team: Carlos Berrios, Adib Cúre, Carie Penabad, Catherine O’Sullivan
Contractor: Ingenio Magdalena (in house team);
Consultants: ARUP Engineers, Basulto and Associates;
Client: Escuelita Buganvilia;
Design collaboration: Pro bono collaboration with Fundación Educativa
Photo credits: Carlos Domenech


Situated on the remote and beautiful southwestern coast of Guatemala, the new classroom prototype serves a growing rural community, that up until recently had limited access to formal education. The design, is a collaboration between the architects, a local non for profit agency, the community and the School’s director to address increased enrollment and an existing deteriorating physical facility. The project is conceived with the belief that access to education is a critical component in combating poverty; and as such Architecture can play an important role in educating and improving society. This project focuses on the fundamentals. With little budget and no access to advanced technological solutions, this rural prototype must rely on fundamental principles of siting, climate response and sustainability. The project is intended to provide a comfortable and stimulating learning environment for children, capable of being easily and affordably replicated throughout the site as the school continues to expand. Thus, the project is developed with a selective kit of parts, capable of being assembled, edited and expanded as needed. Built in concrete and steel, contemporary materials used in the vernacular constructions of the region today, the new building houses five classrooms and a set of bathrooms. Its overall form is a direct response to the particulars of the hot and humid tropical environment with a prominent metal roof that overhangs more than two and a half meters beyond the edges of the building. The overhang provides protection from the intense tropical heat and incessant rains and serves as a space of circulation and informal gatherings for the children. Its base is lined with concrete benches that transform this outdoor area into an impromptu classroom as well, nearly doubling the footprint of usable space. Since its completion, the School has been able to accommodate nearly double the number of students and enrollment continues to increase. Phases II and III of the project will complete the masterplan by creating a new educational precinct, solidifying the school’s role as an educational and cultural center for the community.