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KIBERA HAMLETS SCHOOL

Doing much with little

SelgasCano | Helloeverything

KIBERA HAMLETS SCHOOL
By Caterina Testa -

It all started when architectural photographer, Iwan Baan, and architects SelgasCano visited the only “school” providing education for the children in Nairobi’s Kibera Hamlets, one of Kenya’s poorest slums. The trip prompted SelgasCano to turn their brief for a summer pavilion for Copenhagen’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art into an opportunity to design and finance a structure that after its useful life at the exhibition could be easily dismantled, shipped and re-built in the Kenyan slum as a new school. The project was made possible thanks to the collaboration of many: the Louisiana Museum, architecture studios SelgasCano of Madrid and helloeverything based in New York, Kenyan architect Abdul Fatah Adam, photographer Iwan Baan, and the London creative workplace Second Home. The whole process of ideation and realization of the pavilion highlights three key features dear to the Spanish architecture firm and all those who had a hand in the project: the innovative and sensible use of lightweight, economical materials, the belief that contemporary architecture must be adaptable, and that architectural projects are a way of transforming our world. In Denmark, the project was significant as an experimental prototype challenging the structural rules and traditional assemblage practices of conventional building. In Kenya, the same building became a school - the Kibera Hamlets School - and the practical solution to the economic and logistical constraints of an educational establishment in that context. Started as a football team, the community-based organization Kibera Hamlets then took on the schooling of more than 150 young children and adolescents in this poverty-stricken slum, becoming a school for kindergarten, primary and secondary school groups. Many of the children are orphans and the victims of violence; many are HIV-positive. As well as the school, the organization also has theater, sports and environmental activities, develops...

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