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The design of the school incorporates local building traditions, and is intended as an example of modern earthen architecture in Pakistan. Besides ecological and economical considerations, strengthening the local identity has also played an immanent role in the design process. The construction method of the school has been coordinated to match the capabilities of local craftsmen so that they are trained as specialists to build within the local context & in the improved building system. In the long-term, TSM plans to expand its activities in the area of vocational training, and to become a contact partner in the region for this purpose.
The project is located in rural Punjab; more precisely, the school is located close to the village Jar Maulwi in the district of Sheikhupura, approximately 70 km from the important city of Lahore. Punjab qualifies as the country's most densely populated province. The area is characterised by structural poverty, especially a lack of health care, reduced earning opportunities, and educational institutions. The rate of illiteracy in Pakistan is 50%, which is the most severe in all of Asia.
Found in various regions of Pakistan, vernacular architecture is developed according to local climatic conditions, available natural resources, and the population lifestyle. The most important construction materials are earth and wood, which are applied in diverse construction techniques and forms.
The use of earth as a construction material is especially popular in areas that are level with rivers. The material is a product of flood plains. Wood is also an important traditional building material, but displacement and deforestation continues to make wood expensive and scarce. Wood has always been an important trade good, and today, it is still reserved for the construction of ceilings in buildings. Since the traditional earthen building style requires high maintenance and is seen as outdated, more and more people are using baked bricks and concrete, which omits the climatic advantages of earth as a construction material.
Local residential buildings are, in general, constructed in very simply ways; they have a foundation and are severely susceptible to weather damage. Due to a lack of any horizontal barrier, moisture is able to rise upwards which weakens and damages the foundation. Pests are also able to enter into the structure at a much faster rate. Instable ceiling structure is also a problem. Though the construction is not designed to be walked on, inhabitants frequently use the roof as a living area and to sleep, especially during the summer. This quickly leads to cracks that damage the building, and it also exposes the structure to climate changes. Since the solid exterior walls usually have only a few small openings, there is also a lack of daylight which reduces the quality of interior living conditions.
The ceiling and the classic flat-roof structure consist of a triple-layer bamboo structure that is covered with a layer of earth.
The moisture-regulating property of the earth in combination with natural cooling at night (ventilation through the window opening) allows additional air conditioning to be omitted during the hot summer months.
In the winter, the building is warmed via passive solar energy due to its north-south orientation. Sufficient large windows may be opened to provide good natural lighting. The roofed veranda area provides a well-ventilated outdoor room, and the surrounding bamboo curtain also acts as a good sunshade.