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Published: 4 Feb 2019

School Employs Local Architecture to Create a Sense of Home

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Children Village

The Children Village, a new school in rural northern Brazil, employs local materials and manufacturing techniques to create a familiar and authentic home away from home for its 540 boarding students.

The school is run by the Bradesco Foundation as part of a series of educational facilities that serve children living in rural regions of the country. Many live far away and have to travel for hours by boat to reach the school. This would normally create a sense of unease for the children, who have to experience moving to, and living in, a vastly different environment. The Children Village addresses this in its design, which references local architecture to create a space that more closely resembles a large house than a school.

The school is the work of Brazilian architecture firm Aleph Zero, whose understanding of context and traditional construction helps inform the local feel achieved in the design. The building is assembled using regional resources, including blocks of earth that are handmade on-site. This approach is cost-effective, environmentally responsible, and enables the school to visually tie in with the buildings that surround it, despite its large size.

The school also illustrates how architecture can achieve intimacy when organising a large amount of people, replacing dormitories of 40 students with spacious rooms for six. Communal spaces are similarly segmented into smaller flexible rooms for watching television and reading, and boast hammock-flanked balconies for moments of relaxation.

The Children Village was awarded the prestigious RIBA International Prize 2018 for exhibiting how architecture can be used to deliver meaningful social impact.

As explored in our latest Macro Trend report Crafting Modern Connections, consumers want to enjoy a sense of connection to their environment, and are seeking out spaces that reflect their personal tastes and experiences. Designers need to employ architectural language such as colour, form and material that is rooted in context and history to offer consumers a sense of belonging in the public domain.

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