Ilima Primary School
Ilima, DR Congo
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Deep in the Congo Basin, the locally fabricated Ilima Primary Sc

image: MASS Design Group | © all rights reserved
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Category:
education
Phase:
in use
Design:
MASS Design Group
Updated:
29 November 2016
introduction

Deep in the jungle of the Congo Basin, six hours by motorcycle from the nearest airstrip, the Ilima Primary School by MASS Design Group and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) aims to set a new standard for rural education and to redefine what architecture can aspire to in limited-resource areas. Built as part of AWF's strategy to encourage environmental preservation in the region, the school serves as a community centre for village-level programming to promote sustainable farming and hunting practices for the mutually beneficial integration of villages and wildlife.

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cultural and social context

Humans have lived in the forests of the Congo for tens of thousands of years, and are heavily dependent on the environment's resources for raw materials. The capital city of Kinshasa can only be reached from Ilima after a two day canoe trip and a full day's motorcycle ride, leaving the people of Ilima relatively isolated. This isolation has forced the community to develop an extensive knowledge of their ecosystem and its animals, and to depend on the Basin for food, medicine, water, and shelter.

Ilima in its context

image: MASS Design Group | © all rights reserved
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Old school in Ilima and school children

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materials and building techniques

Built entirely of materials and labor sourced on the hard-to-access site, the Ilima School embodies MASS's ethos of Lo-Fab [local fabrication]. The shingles were crafted out of local wood, as were the beams. The bricks were created on site from local sand and locally-sourced palm oil, out of a recipe developed with advice from Ilima masons.

Shingles crafted from local wood

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Shingles crafted by hand

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Cutting shingles

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Masons at work on locally sourced brick

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Screen weaver at work

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Material overview

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earth and climate

The Ilima community is situated in Equateur Province at the heart of the Congo Basin, an environmental treasure that spans 3.7 million square kilometers and is home to some of the world's largest pristine tropical rainforest and wetland areas.

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image gallery
The Ilima Primary School

image: MASS Design Group | © all rights reserved
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The Ilima Primary School

image: MASS Design Group | © all rights reserved
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The Ilima Primary School

image: MASS Design Group | © all rights reserved
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technical drawings
Plans and Sections of Ilima

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Plans and Sections of Ilima

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Plans and Sections of Ilima

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Plans and Sections of Ilima

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Location
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