In a few minutes, Barack Obama will give his Back to School speech (read full text at the Huffington Post), just after the results for the 2009 Open Architecture Challenge are announced.
Near the ending, Obama says “I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too”. Cameron Sinclair, founder of Architecture for Humanity, responds on Twitter “Sir, your welcome”.
This year the Open Architecture Challenge called architects, designers and engineers to rethink the classroom of the future. Sounds like a typical competition, but it is not: they were required to collaborate with real students in real schools in their community to develop real solutions.
The winner of this year’s Challenge is the Teton Valley Community School, with a project designed with the emerging practice Section Eight . The Teton Valley Community School in a non-profit independent school located in Victor, Idaho, which is one of the most underfunded school systems in the nation. Currently the school is based out of a remodeled house, but thanks to this award they are closer to get a full classroom.
There are also other awards that I will describe later, but this is more than just prizes. The Challenge received over 1,000 entries, entries that can become real projects that can help improve the quality of education around the world. Architecture for Humanity established the Classroom Upgrade Fund, that hopes to provide seed funding and support to local schools in implementing the design solutions they have developed.
Challenge Winner: Teton Valley Community School, Victor, Idaho, USA Designed by: Section Eight , Victor, Idaho, USA
Founders’ Award: The Corporación Educativa y Social Waldorf, Bogota, Colombia Designed by: Arquitectura Justa, Bogota, Colombia
Best Urban Classroom Upgrade Design: Rumi School of Excellence, Hyderabad, India Designed: IDEO, San Francisco, CA, USA
Best Rural Classroom Design: Building Tomorrow Academy, Wakiso and Kiboga, Uganda Designed by: Gifford LLP, London, UK
Best Re-locatable Classroom Design: Druid Hills High School, Georgia, USA Designed by: Perkins and Will, Georgia, USA
The school is located on a two acre site within two existing residences that have been transformed into classrooms. Due to space constraints, half of the school’s students are located at a satellite campus nearby creating a disjointed school facility. After meeting with the students, teachers and parents, the Teton Valley Community School’s master plan includes five proposed classroom buildings. The design allows for flexibility in their spacing and construction. The classroom buildings can be either site built or prefabricated in two modules that can be shipped to the site. The design objectives were to create flexible spatial configurations, reduce the school’s ecological footprint, and create a strong connection to the outdoors in response to the mountain climate.