The "Villa for Girls" project is an initiative of the Sisters of Mary, an institution dedicated to supporting developing countries around the world through an educational model that is applied in areas of extreme poverty. This model consists of a selection of a group of girls or boys from large families, who have qualities to be agents of change in the area where they live. They are educated in facilities with the highest standards of quality, both in terms of physical infrastructure and academic content . After completing their training, the children return to their families in order to train members of their family, and thus generate a multiplier effect in the area where they live. Villa for Girls in Honduras is located on the outskirts of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. It was located in a plot with a large area with the idea of developing a complex with educational facilities, sports fields and dispersal areas with significant natural surroundings.
"This project was designed as a small villa, that could offer an education to girls, as well as recreation, socialization, a decent life ..." Like any small town, Villa for Girls develops from walking trails, which traverse the project, culminating in different areas with small squares and, around them, the various buildings that make up the complex. Each of these small groups of buildings have a view: In the case of the East Wing, towards the sisters' house and the chapel, which is located on the highest point of the project; on the west side, a mound with a statue of the Virgin Mary.
The trails are lined with poplars that will filter light and freshen the various buildings. "Honduras has gorgeous weather, as long as one is under shade..." As a result, all buildings will possess optimal climatic conditions. The vegetation that will be integrated into the project is comprised of several species of fruit trees, which will achieve not only a landscaping project that enriches the project in a visual and atmospheric sense, but will also yield food for the users.
As mentioned above, different buildings of the complex are developed around open squares. The project is designed so that each of these buildings reflects the spirit of the institution: austere construction, essential, basic, but with character and warmth. In this way all buildings are developed from regular volumes, their structure exposed most times, but with little details that characterize each of these:
- Gym: Metallic structure with sheet metal cladding, referring to the "champas", or informal small buildings in the area.
- Workshops: Yellow tile cladding, which gives warmth to the exposed concrete structure. Vertical circulation is attached to the core of this building, and a
light roof projected to the plaza is integrated from a
stairway on which girls can sit and watch the various activities taking place. Likewise, the workshops are open to the landscape through a system of automatic gates. The
top of the building refers to the traditional housing typology,
which is clad in sheet metal, referring to substandard housing in the area.
- Classroom and Dorm Buildings: The basic structure was modified to develop the horizontal openings where the windows were installed. Furthermore, the cladding material was a tile with color variations to create a play of color and solids and voids across the facade.
- House of the Sisters, Chapel: Designed with Zamorano type marble, it is the most important building of the complex, which frames the oratory with a cross-shaped window.
"Each of the details that were integrated into the buildings were small gestures of love (as related to the treatment of the Sisters with the girls), which humanize constructions, dignify, give them quality ..."
The "Villa for Girls" project is a clear testament of how architecture can be a tool for change for the inhabitants of an area or a country. This complex has been considered by the president of this nation as one of the most important and highest quality educational facilities, but its importance lies not in the quality of construction or the details that can make it look like an "advanced" school for a country like Honduras, but the fact that this project is a container of change and of realities.