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Nakayale Private Academy is a primary school situated near Ruacana, located in Etunda in the western Omusati Region of Northern Namibia. The school has facilities to cater for 120 learners, which includes 8 classrooms, a boys and girls hostel and teachers accommodation. The school also has a very successful agricultural component where learners are taught to grow and sell vegetables to the public. All proceeds go towards funding the school and with its current success; they will build up enough funds to add a secondary school to the existing facility. The project challenges the conventional MOE norm in terms of budget, materials and layout. The design focuses on the site, location, end user, and the brief rather than complying with a generic set of rules applied to the educational typology in Namibia. Conceptual Development: Focusing on the rural location of the site and the sensitivity of the land, the design development originated through a cultural study of local materials, traditions of the people and the necessity of specifying available materials of low maintenance to be fixed within 24 hours. Exterior spaces were given specific identities to accommodate the young user’s basic needs of play, comfort, rest, security, shade, nutrition and culture. Design approach: On arrival one is greeted by the administration building, a subtle addition amongst the existing trees, it creates a security border and a portal towards the school facilities. A paved walkway links the offices to the school hall and continues to other building clusters with intermediate pedestrian nodes. Buildings are strategically placed around existing trees with central and secondary courtyards. This ensures the safety of learners during classes and in the afternoons without fencing in the school. The main hall has a large communal fire pit which becomes the heart of the school, as a gathering and social space. The structure of the individual buildings mimics the indigenous “exo-skeleton” way of building; together with large roof overhangs to provide enough shade for outdoor comfort. Other passive design elements were incorporated to control heat exchange through the use of thick thermal mass walls and steel screens providing security, shade, as well as allowing for natural ventilation. Translucent sheets in classrooms and the hall allow for sufficient natural light during the day. It also gives the learners a direct connection to nature while low-level seating activates the edges of the buildings. Detail design and thorough investigations into budget distribution, self-sufficiency and available materials guided the project towards a site specific education development aiding the futures of marginalized children of the western part of the country.
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