Chipakata is small rural Zambian community with no local school so its children have to walk five miles to an overcrowded facility. But Joseph Mizzi, president of Sciame Construction, visited the village last year with New York City–based stylist and native-Zambian, Nchimunya Wulf. They both were inspired to start a non-profit to build a new school for the community. The duo launched the 14+ Foundation last June and after a fundraiser that garnered $350,000 for the organization to pit together a group of New York–based design professionals who are building a brand new facility in the heart of Chipakata.
The building, the foundation claims, will “capture views of the surrounding landscape and occupy level ground, both of which were drivers in the overall planning and siting of the complex.” Further, “Aided by computer analysis of the site’s solar conditions, the orientation and massing of the buildings ensure proper solar shading throughout the day. The basic design of the classroom buildings is a modified version of the traditional Zambian ‘classroom bar’ typology. By pulling the classroom modules apart, additional covered spaces are created for informal learning and group activities. Clerestory windows maximize daylight and natural ventilation within the classroom volumes. The elevated steel canopy provides for flexible open-air spaces on the second level shaded from sun and rain.”
In developing country like Zambia, construction materials all need to be imported so this facility “is being built from locally available materials and resources and employs nearby Zambian construction firms as well as local community members to perform the construction work on site. A number of community-based initiatives have already been completed including new roads and infrastructure, a grinding mill and a retail shop that provide more immediate access to essential goods and services for the village. The first phase of the project will open in 2014. Subsequent phases across the 250 acre site will include numerous agricultural initiatives, a health clinic and other important facilities.”
The design of the project is a collaborative effort lead by a group of NYC design professionals including Susan Rodriguez, a founding partner and design principal at Ennead Architects, Frank Lupo, an adjunct professor at Pratt Institute, Nat Oppenheimer, executive vice president of Robert Silman Associates Structural Engineers, and Randy Antonia Lott, director at Moed de Armas & Shannon Architects. The team has provided their services for this project on a pro-bono basis.