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introduction Edit

The village of Mahenzo is located in southeastern Kenya. Our existing school was built in 2005 by FDM (Forum for Development Malindi) and currently has 3 classrooms and serves 120 children. Only one of the classrooms is in adequate condition, one shows signs of structural damage, and one has no roof. There are an additional 330 local children who seek placement in the school. Two development organizations, FDM and Pendo Kenia e.V., and the design firm Orkidstudio are partnering together with our villagers to add 10 more classrooms, a library, kitchen, dining hall, toilets and showers. A selected team of local men and women will be trained in superadobe (earthbag) construction by Orkidstudio. Using their collective knowledge, this team will form their own environmentally-friendly construction company with guidance from Pendo Kenia e.V. to build other necessary structures in the village and simultaneously add many vitally needed jobs to the local economy.

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image gallery Edit

the core team Edit

Our community plays a vital role in the process of renovating the Mahenzo school, and has been an essential team member from the start. FDM (formerly FOM - Forum for Orphans Malindi) has been working with the Mahenzo villagers for over a decade, providing many needed trainings and resources. FDM built the original government accredited school in 2005 and continues to manage it, although our local government provides the teachers and pays their salary.
Pendo Kenia e.V. was created in 2011 to help support FDM, and together they support rural communities in a variety of ways. For the past several years, they have actively built schools, installed water lines, performed regular health checks, and implemented several innovative agricultural programs to help farmers increase their yields.
Orkidstudio is a design firm with extensive experience working with communities in Kenya, producing high quality, durable buildings, and setting new benchmarks for the quality of local construction. Their projects seek to inspire, promote equality, and create a process through which new skills and opportunities can emerge. They focus on the process of design and construction rather than just the final product, believing this process is a powerful tool for affecting social change and empowering people through the sharing of skills and knowledge on site.
Our community will be directly involved in the construction of the school, starting from the early planning stages. Both men and women from the village will be hired and trained by Orkidstudio in the superadobe method of construction. This low cost, low-tech system is easy to learn and will save more than 50% on costs. To date, Pendo Kenia e.V. has raised about 35,000€ for the project through private donors and investors. A site survey is currently underway and Orkidstudio will soon present their initial concept designs to help us all better envision the school.

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what is still needed and why Edit

Although the initial concept designs are still in the development phase, we anticipate using superadobe construction for the walls, timber for structural members, and clay tiles for the roof. Superadobe uses soil directly from the site packed into polypropylene bags made by local manufacturers and readily available from nearby markets. We welcome the donation of these products and other supplies such as windows/doors, electrical/plumbing parts, and the accompanying tools needed for installation.
Donations for the supply of any of these products would greatly reduce construction costs and speed the completion of the school. We are looking to source all of our construction tools and materials from as close to the site as possible to reduce transportation costs and to make replication of the construction process for our community as accessible as possible.
In return for product donations, individuals and corporate sponsors could be featured as partners on the Pendo Kenia e.V. website and other marketing material used in the promotion of the school. Likewise, their products could also be advertised and highly promoted in our community and to visitors during construction of the school, as well as referred to for future construction projects.

Funding support:

Projected costs based on the renovation of 144 m2 of existing classroom space and just over 800 m2 of new construction are estimated to be upwards of 120,000€. Costs including the purchase of high quality, durable materials, salaries for local skilled and unskilled laborers, and delivery/contingency costs are estimated at approximately 104,000€. Wages for local workers will be set at competitive rates based on prior skill level. Professional fees including a pro bono design concept, design development, on-site management, community engagement and training of community workers accounts for approximately 16,000€. Costs are based on a schedule of 12 weeks starting in late January 2017.
Thus far, 35,000€ has been raised through private donors and foundations using various fundraising campaigns. Corporate sponsors have been approached but are hesitant to donate before the initial design concept has been completed, which is set for November 2016. Along with continual community outreach programs, grant applications to such organizations the Germany's BMZ and the OpenIDEO Youth Empowerment Challenge are also underway.
We are seeking funds to cover the projected costs to ensure quality workmanship and on-time delivery of the project and hope to open our doors to students starting mid-year 2017.


As an alternative to purchasing clay roofing tiles, there is the possibility to produce them ourselves with clay from the site. For this we are seeking a professional to train workers from our village and oversee production until they are able produce quality tiles on their own. In addition, advice in marketing, sales, and promotion of the tiles to outlying areas is needed. This would not only save on costs, but could lead to the creation of new business opportunities for ourcommunity as well as help pay for construction costs and other programs.
Advice is also needed in the promotion of the project for fundraising purposes. Ideas on how to best attract new donors and sponsors, find appropriate CSR programs, and other funding possibilities would also be greatly valuable.
In return for their advice and services, advisors could be featured as partners on the Pendo Kenia e.V. website and in other marketing material used in the promotion of the school.

impact Edit

This project aims to serve the Mahenzo community through the use of innovative architecture, sustainable construction methods, and social enterprise. We hope to make the Mahenzo school a model for the area, teaching low-cost, earth friendly, easily replicable building techniques and using locally available, affordable materials coupled with the best in modern ecological design. We aim to work hand-in-hand with our partner organizations, using materials in an innovative way to instill a sense of pride and create an identity for the village, creating a school to be used and shared for generations to come.
Children, who attend the school, will receive a quality education in a safe and innovative space which nurtures their appreciation for the environment and allows their creativity to soar. Adults will benefit through continuing education classes held in such areas as high-profit sustainable farming techniques, healthcare, literacy, entrepreneurial, and empowerment skills.
Just like our partner, Orkidstudio, we see architecture as a process rather than a product, and look for opportunities to maximize social impact through initiatives which empower local people. This will lead directly to a higher level of responsibility and commitment to maintain the finished building as well as equipping our local laborers with new skills and knowledge. Inclusion, participation, and economic empowerment set us apart from current programs and allowing for similar approaches in the future.
Impact will be measured by the amount of workers hired and trained, the number of children and adults who seek placement in school programs, and the number of future building projects brought about by the success of the completion of the school. Our community is in dire need for both durable, affordable housing and new sources of income. We hope to make an impact on both of these needs with the completion of this school.

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external links Edit


Project details
Project name: Mahenzo Goes Green
Description: Renovation of a rural school using superadobe construction
Category: education
Consultants: Orkidstudio
Building status: proposal (Buildify submission)
Construction period: Construction starts January 2017
Needs: supply, funding support, advice
Location: Mahenzo, Kenya
Coordinates: 3°16'19.7'' S, 40°0'50.1'' E
Tags: low tech, development cooperation, education, local resources, earth
Project ID: 638
Published: 20 September 2016
Last updated: 12 October 2016
(images have individual licenses)
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CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
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