Intelligent Architecture for Safer and More Effective Primary Schools in Nepal

Mar 25, 2018

Adam Rouhana

Architecture  Education  Mission


Ethan Levine, the architect of Diyalo’s schools, holds a Masters of Architecture (M.Arch.) from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Ethan’s thesis at Harvard explored how to design Diyalo’s schools in conjunction with Diyalo pedagogy while accounting for disaster risk, resource constraints, and local materials.
The outcome is a massively deployable, affordable, and resilient primary school architectural design featuring a novel but simple hexagonal classroom. Breaking away from British-colonial design paradigms, these innovative new designs for Diyalo classrooms will help to change existing hierarchies and preconceptions about student-teacher relationships and promote interaction in non- traditional ways.
Traditional designs enforce a teacher-as-authoritarian education model while excluding possibilities for other pedagogical approaches. Our new designs create non-hierarchical geometries that can bend and conform to local landscapes, liberating both interior space and exterior form to create space for improvisation.
Further, our architecture methodology is expansive. Though Nepal needs 250,000 classrooms, communities should also receive something special and unique. Our methodology can produce 2,700,000 unique classrooms, which can combine into schools smaller than three rooms apiece and be expanded to any size necessary. The 2015 earthquake fully or partially destroyed more than 50,000 classrooms, according to the DOE. According to Nepal’s Ministry of Education’s 2016 Consolidated Report on Education, one in three schools needs to be built due to chronic shortage, and one in three existing classrooms must be rebuilt due to earthquake damage. The Diyalo Foundation sees an opportunity to provide schools that can model best practices for disaster resilience for the approximately 12,000 schools that must be built (and 12,000 more that must be rebuilt) nationwide.
Our design philosophy is that building integrity is deeply linked to human integrity; communities will be happier and healthier with safe buildings that are beautifully and intelligently designed. The path out of poverty is paved with education, and schools are the roads to resilience. See all the details of Diyalo Architecture on our Architecture Page.