Rudrapur lies in the north of the most densely populated country on the earth. Poverty and the lack of an infrastructure drive many people from the countryside into the cities. The local NGO Dipshikha attempts to follow new paths with its development program: the intention is to give the rural population perspectives and to help people learn about the value of the village in all its complexity. Part of this is a special school concept that instils in the children self-confidence and independence with the aim of strengthening their sense of identity.
The METI (Modern Education and Training Institute) is a special education system and the result of extensive knowledge and practice. METI aims to promote the empowerment and individual interests taking into account the different speeds of learning of each individual and offering a more open and free alternative to the typical approach of lectures.
The architecture conceived by Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag reflects these principles, offering various types of spaces and uses to support this approach to teaching and learning. On the ground floor, with its thick earthen walls, there are three classrooms, each with its own access to a comprehensive system of “caves” in the back of the class. The upper floor is in contrast with the ground floor, bright and airy, with walls made of bamboo offering sweeping views of the surroundings and a lot of room for movement.
From the architect’s web site
“This joyous and elegant two-storey primary school in rural Bangladesh has emerged from a deep understanding of local materials and a heart-felt connection to the local community. Its innovation lies in the adaptation of traditional methods and materials of construction to create light-filled celebratory spaces as well as informal spaces for children. Earthbound materials such as loam and straw are combined with lighter elements like bamboo sticks and nylon lashing to shape a built form that addresses sustainability in construction in an exemplary manner. The design solution may not be replicable in other parts of the Islamic world, as local conditions vary, but the approach – which allows new design solutions to emerge from an in-depth knowledge of the local context and ways of building – clearly provides a fresh and hopeful model for sustainable building globally. The final result of this heroic volunteer effort is a building that creates beautiful, meaningful and humane collective spaces for learning, so enriching the lives of the children it serves.” (Jury of The Aga Khan Award for Architecture 10th Circle).