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  5. Anna Heringer
  6. 2007
  7. Handmade School / Anna Heringer + Eike Roswag

Handmade School / Anna Heringer + Eike Roswag

  • 01:00 - 4 March, 2010
Handmade School / Anna Heringer + Eike Roswag
Handmade School / Anna Heringer + Eike Roswag, © Kurt Hoerbst
© Kurt Hoerbst

© Kurt Hoerbst © Kurt Hoerbst © Kurt Hoerbst © Kurt Hoerbst +14

  • Architects

  • Location

    Rudrapur, Dinajpur district, Bangladesh
  • Architects

    Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag
  • Structural Engineering

  • Construction

    Dipshikha / METI
  • Footprint Area

    275 sqm
  • Area

    325.0 sqm
  • Project Year

  • Photographs

From the architect. Context: Bangladesh is a fertile alluvial land in the Gulf of Bengal and the land with the highest population density in the world. On average nearly 1000 people live in every square kilometre and over 80% of the population live in rural areas. Much of the vernacular built tradition uses earth and bamboo as a building material, however, construction techniques are error-prone and many buildings lack foundations and damp proof coursing. Such buildings require regular mainte- nance, are often prone to damage and last on average only 10 years.

site plan
site plan

Project aims: It is particularly important to improve the quality of living in the rural areas in order to counteract the continuing popula- tion migration to the cities. The primary potential for developing building in the rural areas is the low cost of labour and locally available resources such as earth and bamboo.

The project’s main strategy is to communicate and develop knowledge and skills within the local population so that they can make the best possible use of their available resources. Historic building techniques are developed and improved and the skills passed on to local tradesmen transforming in the process the image of the building techniques.

© Kurt Hoerbst
© Kurt Hoerbst

Concept and Design: METI aims to promote individual abilities and interests taking into account the different learning speeds of the schoolchil- dren and trainees in a free and open form of learning.

It offers an alternative to the typical frontal approach to lessons. The architecture of the new school reflects this principle and provides different kinds of spaces and uses to support this approach to teaching and learning. On the ground floor with its thick earth walls, three classrooms are located each with their own access opening to an organically shaped system of ‘caves’ to the rear of the classroom. The soft interiors of theses spaces are for touching, for nestling up against, for retreating into for exploration or concentration, on one’s own or in a group. 

The upper floor is by contrast light and open, the openings in its bamboo walls offering sweeping views across the sur- roundings, its large interior providing space for movement. The view expands across the treetops and the village pond. Light and shadows from the bamboo strips play across the earth floor and contrast with the colourful materials of the saris on the ceiling.

section sketch
section sketch

Building construction and techniques: The building rests on a 50cm deep brick masonry foundation rendered with a facing cement plaster. Bricks are the most common product of Bangladesh’s building manufacturing industry. Bangladesh has almost no natural reserves of stone and as an alternative the clayey alluvial sand is fired in open circular kilns into bricks. These are used for building or are broken down for use as an aggregrate for concrete or as ballast chippings. Imported coal is used to fire the kilns.

Aside from the foundation, the damp proof course was the other most fundamental addition to local earthen building skills. The damp proof course is a double layer of locally available PE-film. The ground floor is realised as load-bearing walls using a technique similar to cob walling. A straw-earth mixture with a low straw content was manufactured with the help of cows and water buffalo and then heaped on top of the foundation wall to a height of 65cm per layer. Excess material extending beyond the width of the wall is trimmed off using sharp spades after a few days. After a drying period of about a week the next layer of cob can be applied. In the third and fourth layers the door and window lintels and jambs were integrated as well as a ring beam made of thick bamboo canes as a wall plate for the ceiling.

© Kurt Hoerbst
© Kurt Hoerbst

The ceiling of the ground floor is a triple layer of bamboo canes with the central layer arranged perpendicular to the layers above and beneath to provide lateral stabilisation and a connection between the supporting beams. A layer of planking made of split bamboo canes was laid on the central layer and filled with the earthen mixture analogue to the technique often used in the ceilings of European timber-frame constructions.

The upper storey is a frame construction of four-layer bamboo beams and vertical and diagonal members arranged at right angles to the building. The end of the frames at the short ends of the building and the stair also serve to stiffen the building. These are connected via additional structural members with the upper and lower sides of the main beams and equipped with additional windbracing on the upper surface of the frame. A series of bamboo rafters at half the interval of the frame construction beneath provide support for the corrugated iron roof construction and are covered with timber panelling and adjusted in height to provide sufficient run-off.

Finishes and fittings: The exterior surface of the earth walls remains visible and the window jambs are rendered with a lime plaster. The framework constructon of the green façade to the rear is made of bamboo canes seated in footings made of old well pipe and with split horizontal timbers as latticework. The interior surfaces are plastered with a clay paster and painted with a lime-based paint. The ‘cave’s are made of a straw-earth daub applied to a supporting structure of bamboo canes and plastered with a red earth plaster. The upper storey façades are clad with window frames covered with bamboo strips and coupling elements hung onto the columns of the frame construction. A fifth layer of cob walling provides a parapet around the upper storey forming a bench run- ning around the perimeter of the building and anchoring the upper storey frame construction and roof against wind from beneath. A textile ceiling is hung beneath the roof is lit from behind in the evening. The cavity behind the textiles ventilates the roof space.

elevations sketch
elevations sketch

On-site labour using and training the local workforce: The masonry foundation was constructed by a company from the regional capital Dinajpur around 20km from Rudrapur. The earth building works and bamboo construction was undertaken by local labourers. The building techniques were implemented and developed on the job together with architects and tradesmen from Germany and Austria. 25 local tradesmen from the vicinity were trained during the building works creating new jobs and providing professional “help for self-help”.

Exemplary nature, transferability, follow-on projects: School handmade showcases the potential of good planning and design, from the arrangement of the building on the site to the realisation of aspects in detail. Furthermore it demonstrates the possibilities of building with earth and bamboo using simple methods as the continua- tion of a local rural building tradition and can serve as an example for future building developments in the area. 

© Kurt Hoerbst
© Kurt Hoerbst

A stable foundation and a damp proof course are the primary technical prerequisites for building with earth, making the buildings last longer and reducing maintenance requirements. For smaller room spans, the newly developed bamboo ceiling construction can be made entirely out of local materials using handmade jute rope and bamboo dowelling.

© Kurt Hoerbst
© Kurt Hoerbst

METI, Modern Education and Training Institute: METI enables children and young people in the region to take classes up to the age of 14 and provides workshops for trade-oriented professions. The idea is to provide the rural population with access to good, holistically-oriented educa- tion. The children and young people are encouraged to develop into responsible, motivated and creative personalities and to use their skills to improve and develop their immediate rural environment. Reading, writing and arithmetic as well as languages are offered in a free environment and through open forms of learning. Meditation, dance and creative writ- ing are part of everyday learning at the METI School as are discussions, learning as part of a group and self-critical and social behaviour.

© Kurt Hoerbst
© Kurt Hoerbst

Dipshikha, Bangladesh: Dipshikha is an NGO dedicated to supporting development in the particularly poor regions of northern Bangladesh and has been active in this area for nearly 25 years. Paul Tigga, director of Dipshikha explains that the aim is to open up pos- sibilities in the villages to make people aware of the potential at home in an attempt to strengthen the region and reduce outward migration to the cities.

Shanti e.V. has been the German partner for Dipshikha since its foundation and supports the financing, planning and implementation of development and educational work. A central aspect of their work is the implementation of integrated village development programmes for education, health, strengthening the position of women in society, nutrition, agricul- ture and trade skills. Shanti also provides support in emergency situations and exchange and volunteer programmes. The PMK has supported METI for many years and was a partner for the school building together with Shanti and Dip- shikha.

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: "Handmade School / Anna Heringer + Eike Roswag" 04 Mar 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
Read comments


Concus Cretus · March 12, 2016

great stuff, and designed by ladies. more stuff like this

aposki · November 10, 2015

simply great, great than the all the egoistic architecture by all starchitects...

female · September 25, 2014

Architecture can reach normal people by these kind of work ... :)
great (Y)

negar · November 17, 2012

dsjopey jvqrt bn:"???? ???? ????????? ???"
swqr^ yshj & jsw 2500$!!!!!:|

vej pat · June 25, 2012
This is what I would love to do...

Augusto Del Vecchio · October 26, 2011

Este proyecto es impecable! De lo mejor que he visto últimamente, esto es lo que se busca en arquitectura

Marjolein Caniëls · October 26, 2011

Handmade School / Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag | ArchDaily via @archdaily #architecture #education #Bangladesh

Omamah alsadiQ · August 24, 2011

Handmade School / Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag | ArchDaily #Architecture #Bangladesh #School

Suzie Wiley · August 23, 2011

Incredible #architecture A Handmade School / Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag | via ArchDaily

vlvm · June 12, 2011

Arquitectura mas allá del curtain wall > excelentes >

Miguel Sanchez Leon · June 12, 2011

Arquitectura mas allá del curtain wall > excelentes >

Sharmistha Chowdhury · November 28, 2010

I am astonished after seeing this design...
truely architecture.

Abdul waheed · December 10, 2010 11:39 AM

one of my best project i had been through, wish to produce architecture lyk that

dmcordell · August 19, 2010

@ChristianLong Seen in FB:

The Third Teacher · August 19, 2010
Richard Anderson · May 01, 2010

From languishing in my inbox — I think this is great: via @archdaily

so_white · March 25, 2010
Handmade School / Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag | ArchDaily

Ted Spalding · March 25, 2010

Handmade School / Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag | ArchDaily

rui ishiguro · March 08, 2010
dex · March 08, 2010
Junior · March 08, 2010

Handmade School / Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag | ArchDaily #design @delicious

Rafaella Hardman · March 06, 2010

RT @patriciaarch: Handmade school in Bangladesh: #architecture #sustainable
Bamboo and earth-local vernacular translated to contemporary

Magali Alves · March 06, 2010

RT @patriciaarch: Handmade school in Bangladesh: #architecture #sustainable
Bamboo and earth-local vernacular translated to contemporary

amflores · March 06, 2010

I can´t even begin to count all the ways this is one of the most beautiful projects I´ve seen... this is architecture the really moves you.

alex · March 05, 2010

one of my favourite buildings... The light and material usage in the interior spaces are excellent, strange that they didn't upload pictures like this:

squidly · March 05, 2010

Really a beautiful project, timeless in its architecture. Others have mentioned Hadid and other blobbers and feelers of the moment, but in reality we need both. As much as i despised the pomo of the 80's and early 90's at the time, i am not unhappy to have these buildings serve as markers of a currency of thought that belonged to its time.

Nicolas · March 05, 2010

Beautiful proyect, excellent balance between materials, structure and space. It´s really a building for that place! Congrats

black rosz · March 05, 2010

can it be possible in India.

Hampton · March 04, 2010

This project goes to show that sometimes it just takes low-tech to get the fat kid to lick the biscuit.

Dustin · March 04, 2010

I would love to see some of the projects building details. Very good architecture.

zuzana · March 04, 2010


Ludovica · March 04, 2010

For the Architects and students in Milan, there will be a lecture by Eike Rosway at the Ordini degli architetti as part of the conference of Architetti senza frontiere, tomorrow friday 5th of March at h.19.
Below is the link for further info:

Architist · March 04, 2010

Guys if you are student of architecture or an architects you should know that we cannot build anything just anywhere. Every places have to be respected in their own way.
So I agree also about zaha crazy architecture, sometimes without any meaning just computer models.... but this project is one tree architecture language we should be focusing on... SUSTAINABILITY!!!!
Great work!!

tim · March 04, 2010

this has more true architecture in it than blobby zaha, "sustainable" foster or some other koophimmelblau ever had...

alex · March 04, 2010 08:09 PM

yes, agreed. this is the type of architecture I wish I could do. sadly, I dont. and I dont know why not.


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© Kurt Hoerbst